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Chicago 10 (Brett Morgan)

Chicago 10 (Brett Morgan)

“Power to the people!” exclaims Bobby Seale, the former leader of the Black Panthers, at the closing of “Chicago 10, a part documentary/part animated film which unveils the story of the Democratic Convention that took place in Chicago 40 years ago amidst thousands of protestors demanding an end to the Vietnam War.


Most of what we’ve seen when it comes to the protest era during the Vietnam War has been presented within a feature film. As with most documentaries, there’s nothing like seeing the real thing in action, as it happened. During that time the media covered current events as opposed to now, who only mentions protests, including those during the five year anniversary of the Iraq war.

That is the opportunity director Brett Morgan provides us, not only with archived footage, which includes the activist Abbie Hoffman, leader of the revolutionary movement the Yippies, in action, along with and animated artistry that opens the door to what took place in the courtroom during the Chicago 7’s trial. Police forces at the time were not known for sparing the baton, and this historical event was no different. When the people marched past a certain point, or didn’t leave Lincoln Park at the designated time, it was open season.

While these scenes are not always easy to watch, there were empowering moments, such as the point when fearless activists “take” the city statue fueled by the music of Rage Against the Machine. This is yet another twist Morgan uses, not only mixing real film with the animated film (including the voices of Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber, Leonard Weinglass, Jeffrey Wright), but tapping into music from the past to the present. And it is yet another example of how those times link strongly to the current day.

And in the end, it feels like we’ve gone backwards, not forwards, in the last eight years, dissolving any progress in human rights and justice that may have been made during those times…an era when people had to be aggressive with their beliefs in order to bring peace, which in a sense, is quite ironic.

A feature film on this subject is in the works, and two big names are part of the project. Aaron Sorkin, known for his bold television show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, is the writer on the film The Trial of the Chicago 7, with Steven Spielberg as the director. Given Sorkin’s sharp wit and political slices taken during the short run of Studio 60, he is perfect as the one to scribe this next venture.


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