Chicago 10 Reviews
Yeah, the film's about something from the '60s and RATM is playing. NICE CHOICE ASSHOLES! And I couldn't hear a damn thing cuz Tom Morello is SOLOING HIS BALLS OFF and the animation makes me want to cry.
Chicago 10 mixes animation and archived footage to tell an effective story about what the people can do if pushed to get their voices heard. The film features a great cast including Jeffrey Wright, Hank Azaria, Mark Ruffalo, and the late Roy Scheider, who portray the major players of the Chicago Conspiracy Trail in 1969.
Some 40 years later the events that unfolded in Chicago in 1968 are still just as socially relevant as they were back then, and Chicago 10 is a very engaging film that you shouldn't miss.
The Chicago Seven is Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner, each a representative of either the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE) or the Youth International Party (the "Yippies"). After leading thousands upon thousands of activists/demonstrators into war-protesting marches, these seven, along with an eighth person, Black Panther Party activist Bobby Seale, were indicted and tried in court in 1969 for conspiracy and inciting to riot (among other charges). As the trial went on for nearly five months, crowds of protestors accrued outside of the courtroom, initiating crowd control security from the U.S. National Guard.
"Chicago 10" (the ninth and tenth inclusions are defense attorney William Kunstler and prosecutor Tom Foran) is a boldly original new brand of documentary filmmaking that mixes a fair dose of trippy animation with a hansom helping of archive footage/news feed. It's a comedy, of sorts, largely for the singular fact that it showcases the inspired, revolutionary comedians of the infamous Conspiracy Trial (mainly Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin), but its more dramatic than funny, and it benefits greatly from its lopsided focus on the historical content that gives the film its purpose. But the history behind the Chicago Seven/Conspiracy Eight and the judicial mockery that followed is 40 years old -- and society has since changed.
Fear not, for Brett Morgen knows this.
As he did for 2002's "The Kid Stays in the Picture", a shapely exercise in both biographical transposition (it's based on movie producer Robert Evans' '94 autobiography) and industry knowledge, Brett Morgen (who co-directed "Kid" with Nanette Burstein) delivers his subject material as though to be interpreted by only today's young potential voters. Despite the genre tag, "Chicago 10" briskly reels along like any other Hollywood production -- a value helped greatly by its intimidating voice cast*, used for the illustrated scenes -- abstaining from possibly momentum-killing interviews, and instead using digitized courtroom farce to describe the topical event timeline. That's one of the impressive qualities of 10 -- it modernizes a 40-year-old headline in a way that can be heard even amidst our nation's present disconnected population (heck, it even features music by Beastie Boys, Eminem, and Rock's ultimate anti-political group, Rage Against the Machine).
In the end, however, as I alluded to earlier, what makes this Morgen work a winning one is the mass amounts of archive video recordings -- some charming (virtually every bit that features Abbie) and others ghastly (the culminating riot clip is terrifying and infuriating) -- which mediate and overcome the cultural conformity/richness of its vibrant style and allow audiences of both youthful and subdued mindsets to appreciate the challenge for change and moral righteousness presented by the Chicago Seven, nonviolent activism everywhere, and this motion picture.
*Hank Azaria (as Abbie Hoffman/Allen Ginsberg), Mark Ruffalo (as Jerry Rubin), Nick Nolte (as Tom Foran), Liev Schrieber (as William Kunstler), Dylan Baker (as David Dellinger), Jeffrey Wright (as Bobby Seale), and Roy Scheider (as Judge Julius Hoffman)
An animated/archival recreation of the violence that erupted in the city of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the trial against MOBE and the Yippies (Youth International Party) that followed. Adapted from the court transcripts of the USA vs. the Chicago 8 (the title "10" comes from adding defense attorneys William Kunstler and Leorard Weinglass).
"The Democratic National Convention is about to begin in a Police State. There just doesn't seem to be any other way to say it." - CBS' Walter Cronkite
The Chicago Police were already jittery. The DNC riots were hot on the heels of the May 1968 West Side race riots that followed Martin Luther King's death. In addition, the Vietnam War was not going well. By the time the DNC was convened in Chicago in late August, 19,272 Americans had been killed in the three years of fighting, with Lyndon Johnson (the President of the United States) raising the monthly draft rate to 35,000.
Using Rotoscope animation techniques, the film of the trial (as I previously mentioned) was adapted from the court transcripts. Hank Azaria (The Simpsons - Chief Wiggum), the late Roy Scheider (Jaws) and Jefrey Wright (Syriana) performed the voices of Abbey Hoffman, the tragically comical Judge Julius Hoffman, and Bobby Seale respectively.
"There's drama here, heavy hell-ified drama, beyond what you see in the animation." - Bobby Seal (during a phone interview with the Telegraph)
Powerful. I can remember sitting on the floor, watching the bits of riot coverage on the screen. I was just 16 at the time, and already radicalized. I was horrified at the Republicans who had put up Nixon/Agnew while the Democrats had dissolved into chaos over the war. Still, I was hoping beyond hope that Humprey would get elected. My parents looked on with grim expressions, wondering if the war would end before I turned 18.
The sacrifice made by the young folks in Chicago in 1968 and in many other subsequent showdowns, including the tragic shootings at Kent State, continue to resonate today. That sacrifice forced the George W. Bush government to steer clear of the draft for Iraq and, instead, institute the Stop-Loss program (forced re-enlistment) to maintain troop levels.
[b][i]Chicago 10[/i][/b] is an innovating and intriguing documentary that combines actual footage and stunning animation in telling the story of demonstraitors who distrupted the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention.
I was very interested in the subject matter and the fact that the filmmakers were able to bring a new spin and a new way in presenting a documentary made this all the more engrossing.