Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chicago 10 DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Revisits Historic Free Speech Trial of Anti-War Activists

During the summer of 1968, thousands of protesters descended on the Democratic Convention in Chicago in order to voice their displeasure with America’s involvement in the Vietnam War at the. But Mayor Richard Daley, determined to discourage the assembled activists by any means necessary, ordered the police to arrest the organizers of the demonstration on trumped-up charges of conspiracy and crossing state lines with intent to riot.
The tactic ultimately backfired, because the jailed leaders became something of a sympathetic cause celebre since they were essentially only attempting to exercise their right to Freedom of Speech. Dubbed the Chicago 8, their ensuing trial was covered by the national press on a day-to-day basis. The indicted political activists behind bars included such well-known figures as Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale.
Chicago 10, a novel docudrama directed by Brett Morgen, revisits the events surrounding the case via archival footage augmented by word-for-word, animated recreations culled from the transcripts of the contentious courtroom proceedings. Perhaps the movie’s most memorable moment arrives when an exasperated Judge Julius Hoffman, in a highly-unusual measure, orders Seale, the only African-American defendant, gagged, bound, shackled, and held in contempt of court on account of his repeated outbursts.
Later, a couple of defense attorneys, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass were slapped with same charge, hence the change to the Chicago 10. Though it would take years, all were ultimately vindicated. However, the state had ostensibly achieved its aim, namely, to discourage youth at the dawn of the hippie era from feeling free to voice their discontent with society.
Director Morgen earns high marks for finding a most innovative way to illustrate a regrettable chapter in American history.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity and brief sexuality.
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Chicago 10 remix video contest winner and Paramount Pictures previews.

To see a trailer for Chicago 10, visit:

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