Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004)

Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Directed by Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train offers a retrospective on the life and times of Howard Zinn. Activist, best-selling author, and historian, Zinn is considered the catalyst for some of the most notable progressive movements of the past 60 years. Noam Chomsky, who claims that Zinn "changed the consciousness of a generation," is featured in several interviews, along with Marian Wright Edelman, Alice Walker, Tom Hayden, Daniel Ellsberg, and … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 24, 2005
First Run Features - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (16)

A provocative documentary on a life that could easily be described as a moving train.

Full Review… | October 29, 2004
Miami Herald
Top Critic

Finally, a documentary about one of America's most important academics.

Full Review… | October 15, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Leads us on a journey through some of the major historical events of the 20th century, revealing Zinn to be far more than simply an activist version of Zelig.

Full Review… | October 15, 2004
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Loaded with fantastic old footage and photographs of the Vietnam War, of the American civil rights movement and of Zinn's own family.

Full Review… | October 14, 2004
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

A thinker and an educator, Zinn has led a life of commitment and compassion, and the film offers a loving tribute.

August 26, 2004
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

His simple message -- that history is not made by the few but by the struggles of the many -- isn't out of line with typical Marxist teachings, but Zinn has always found a way to make it fresh.

Full Review… | July 28, 2004
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train


[font=Century Gothic]"Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" is an inspiring documentary about the respected historian, activist and occasional playwright, Howard Zinn. A bombing run towards the end of World War II changed his thinking towards war and he started thinking about how to achieve social justice without resorting to violence.(Zinn's philosophy of pacifism is not a passive one and he believes in the practice of civil disobedience.) Later on, after he became a professor, he was deeply involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements, up to the present day when activism is at its most necessary, sometimes to the detriment of his own career. [/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Zinn teaches the history of average people who have made a difference and continue to do so everyday, not the government which is often in conflict with its own people.(He is best known for writing "The People's History of the United States" which I have not yet read.) Zinn believes that education need not be entirely confined to classrooms but also on the streets where students can make a difference.[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


A great introduction to Howard Zinn and his teachings. Kudos to Matt Damon for taking part in this and kudos to anyone else who uses this as a stepping stone to learn more and then take action. Power to the people!

Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

I just finished reading "A People's History of the United States", and saw this was a Watch It Now feature, so thought I'd give it a whirl. Like most documentaries about complex people and issues, this is really more of a jumping-off point for those interested in learning more about Zinn and his work. I'm guessing for those already familiar with Zinn it probably covers a lot of the same ground one already knows. I'm right in the middle, so this has sparked more interest in reading more of his books. If nothing else, he's an engaging speaker and interviewee, so it's worth it just to hear him outside of the written page.

J Dean

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