Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aaron Sorkin: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020).

US © 2020 C7 Productions, Inc. PC: Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks Pictures / Shivhans Pictures / Cross Creek Pictures / Marc Platt Productions. Distributed by: Netflix. P: Stuart M. Besser, Matt Jackson, Marc Platt, Tyler Thompson.
    D+SC: Aaron Sorkin. Cin: Phedon Papamichael – colour – 2,39:1 – source format: Codex ARRIRAW 4.5 K – digital intermediate 4K – release: D-Cinema. PD: Shane Valentino. AD: Nick Francone. Set dec: Andrew Baseman. Cost: Susan Lyall. Makeup: Louise McCarthy. Hair: Nathan J. Busch II. M: Daniel Pemberton. S: Renee Tondelli. ED: Alan Baumgarten. Casting: Mickie Paskal, Jennifer Rudnicke.
    "Hear My Voice" (Daniel Pemberton), perf. Celeste.
    C (as edited in Wikipedia): Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman
Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale
Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark
Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman
John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger
Mark Rylance as William Kunstler
Alex Sharp as Rennie Davis
Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin
Noah Robbins as Lee Weiner
Daniel Flaherty as John Froines
Ben Shenkman as Leonard Weinglass
Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Fred Hampton
Caitlin FitzGerald as Daphne O'Connor
Max Adler as Stan Wojohowski
Alice Kremelberg as Bernardine
John Doman as John N. Mitchell
J. C. MacKenzie as Tom Foran
    Loc: Chicago, Illinois. – Morris County, New Jersey.
    129 min
    US premiere (limited): 25 Sep 2020.
    Finnish premiere (limited): 2 Oct 2020, distributed by Cinemanse Oy, with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Mirja Muurinen / Annika Vasiliadou.
    Netflix premiere: 16 Oct 2020.
    Viewed at Kino Engel 1, Helsinki, 15 Oct 2020.

Tagline: "The whole world is watching".

Edited from Wikipedia: "The Trial of the Chicago 7 is an American historical legal drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. The film follows the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago."

"Sorkin originally wrote the screenplay in 2007, with the intent of Steven Spielberg directing the film with mostly unknown actors. After the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike and budget concerns forced Spielberg to drop out as director, Sorkin was announced as director in October 2018. Filming took place in the fall of 2019 in Chicago and around New Jersey."

"Originally planned for a theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, the distribution rights to the film were sold to Netflix due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
" (Edited from Wikipedia).

AA: The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a great historical play, a first-rate political thriller and an excellent courtroom drama. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, it boasts brilliant dramatic dialogue, performed by an outstanding ensemble cast.

It is one of the best films about "the crazy year 1968": the year of an escalation of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. This film is about the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August 1968. Its centerpiece was the debate of the US involvement in the Vietnam War.

Organizations protesting against the involvement in the Vietnam War included the Youth International Party, National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and Students for a Democratic Society. Next to their representatives, The Chicago 7, also Bobby Seale from the Black Panther Party was accused in the Chicago trial, as the eighth of the accused.

Of previous films covering this theme I remember Haskell Wexler's contemporary Medium Cool (1969) which I saw during its first run but have never seen again since. In my memory, it was a powerful but impressionistic and chaotic account of the violent convention week.

In contrast to Medium Cool, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is well structured. It starts with a montage of establishing scenes of the participants and the historical context before the convention. Then we jump to the trial and follow it chronologically, jumping consistently to the events in flashbacks. The sujet is the trial, and the fabula is the course of the events in August 1968.

This exciting drama rises to special heights in three extraordinary climaxes. The first is the Bobby Seale mistrial. The Black Panther leader is brutally beaten and gagged, to the shock of even those who reject his views.

The other climax is the suppression of the testimony of the previous US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, in office until 20 January, 1969. To the amazement of a closed session of the court in which the jury is not granted access, he states that the previous government found no reason to accuse the demonstrators because the violence was found to be instigated by the Chicago police.

The final climax is the Tom Hayden's statement after the declaration of the verdict: he reads aloud the names of all the thousands of US casualties in Vietnam that have taken place during the trial. The demonstration turns the trial into a victory in defeat.


Oscar-voittaja Aaron Sorkinin tositapahtumiin perustuva äärimmäisen ajankohtainen elokuva seuraa Vietnamin sotaa vastaan protestoinutta ja salaliitosta syytettyä Chicago 7 -ryhmää.

Rauhanomaiseksi tarkoitettu mielenosoitus demokraattien puoluekokouksessa Chicagossa vuonna 1968 muuttui väkivaltaiseksi yhteenotoksi poliisin ja kansalliskaartin kanssa. Mielenosoituksen järjestäjät, niin sanottu Chicagon seitsikko, sai syytteen katuväkivallan lietsomisesta, ja seurannut oikeudenkäynti oli yksi Yhdysvaltain historian pahamaineisimmista.

Gerald Peary, Facebook, 28 Oct 2020: "Maybe our PC age finds no humor in Yippie anarchism. More likely, the problem is that neither Sacha Baron Cohen nor Jeremy Strong, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin in The Trial of the Chicago 7, are funny in the least, as directed by Aaron Sorkin. Neither is Eddie Redmayne cerebral enough as Tom Hayden. The movie is maddeningly erratic in its truthful storytelling, mixing actual court testimony with Sorkin's mostly distasteful inventions. I don't think Fred Hampton was ever in the audience at the trial, nor a whole row of Black Panthers. Pacifist Dave Dellinger absolutely never punched anyone, and Jerry Rubin did not fall romantically for a stooge from the Chicago police. Worst is Sorkin's grandstanding made-up final scene, oratory from Hayden that simply did not happen, to a swelling of soupy patriotic music. And yet, somehow the film is kind of entertaining, probably because of the flavorful banter between Mark Rylance as William Kunstler and Frank Langella as Judge Hoffman, both actors just terrific."

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