In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) was Hollywood's top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. This movie recounts how Dalton used words and wit to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice under the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Dame Helen Mirren) to John Wayne (David James Elliott), Kirk Douglas (Dean O'Gorman), and Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel).Written by
At the picnic at Trumbo's house, Edward is sitting at the picnic table, looking at Dalton over his right shoulder. He asks Dalton a question, then you see Dalton give a short answer from the barbeque. When you see Edward respond, he is on the other side of the table, looking over his left shoulder. See more »
... and reality has delivered, in all its beautific wonder, to the Federal penal system, J. Parnell Thomas - convicted of tax evasion.
J. Parnell Thomas:
Well, look at us - just a couple of jailbirds.
Except you actually committed a crime.
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As the credit scroll begins, photos of the real Dalton Trumbo, his family and other people portrayed in the film are shown. These are followed by historical footage of Trumbo giving an interview (from the same one where he acknowledges that he is 'Robert Rich'). See more »
I give this movie an 8 out of 10. I think, technically, it deserves a 6 or 7. It hinges on the modern notion that a biopic isn't complete unless we see all the nuances regarding the protagonist's family life. That is not necessarily the fault of the filmmakers. I don't think a picture can get funded if it doesn't adhere to these modern foibles. I give it an 8, however, and, for its purpose alone, it deserves a 10.
It takes guts to make a movie like this today.
In the United States, we tend to get comfortable and forget that the concept of freedom of speech is the most important idea any human being has ever put forth. We tend to forget that the powers that be don't like that idea.
They really, REALLY don't like that idea.
They want us lowly masses to be good little sheep and do what we're told and think exactly the way they want us to think. We tend to forget that fighting against that tendency of power is a struggle, a painful, sometimes lethal struggle. Folks in other countries know about it. They know all too well. That's why, in spite of all the other problems they may have with the U.S., they still want to live here.
But we've gotten lazy. Not only are there forces on the extreme right that would like to dictate how we live, think, and even breathe--now we have a warring faction from the left, seen most prominently on college campuses, that embraces censorship and the "shutting down" of alternative opinions like little McCarthys on methamphetamine. The concept of a "safe space," where no "offensive" opinions may be heard, is nothing short of censorship. Defenders of this nonsense often make the claim that the government is not getting involved, therefore, it's not a violation of the First Amendment. Here's what's wrong with that argument:
1. Remember our old friend Katherine Hepburn in Adam's Rib? In her closing arguments, she says the law has two parts--the letter and the spirit. It's true, by the letter of the law, students harassing and banning speakers on campus they don't agree with does not equal the federal government censoring those speakers. But it does violate the SPIRIT of the First Amendment. The government, as the film Trumbo clearly shows, cannot always be trusted to safeguard the LETTER of that particular law. It is up to us, We the People, to safeguard the SPIRIT of that law.
2. Trumbo shows us the horrific world where the government trampled on the First Amendment from the top down. What is happening on college campuses today is that violators of what is deemed "politically correct" (a phrase originating from Mao's Cultural Revolution, which should raise several alarms on that basis alone) are subjected to kangaroo courts on the campus, away from legitimate, LEGAL courts of law. They are harassed and humiliated (just as dissenters in the Cultural Revolution were) with no legal recourse. If this practice becomes accepted in normal society, we will have a political environment no different from the times depicted in the film. The only difference--this time, it we have started with the people and spread to a government ready and willing to enact "speech codes" for its own purposes.
By now, those who still, stubbornly, cling to the notion that there is nothing wrong with what is happening on college campuses today will have dismissed this review. They might even leave typical ad hominem attacks on the message boards to make what attempts they can to silence me (to kill the messenger, if you will). This should very well indicate that what I've said is true.
The sane people reading this, no doubt, are asking what the heck this all has to do with Trumbo.
Having been subjected to a kangaroo court on a college campus where I was called in to the Title IX office for teaching Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," I couldn't help but think, as I watched Trumbo, of the horrific witch hunt I was subjected to. That the film so easily earned my empathy is a testament to how well it's made.
I wish everyone involved a long, healthy career in the movies. We need more stories like this, stories that remind us the struggle to survive as individuals in a world that so stubbornly clings to collectivism is a never-ending battle. It's happened before. It's happening now. If we don't speak up and resist, it will continue happening in the future.
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