William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 3, 2015
Normally, I hesitate whenever there is a documentary about a notable figure by family members, due to their general lack of perspective on the subject.(I'm thinking especially about a disappointing documentary about cinematographer Haskell Wexler.) In the case of "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe," Kunstler's daughters by his second marriage, Emily and Sarah, actually manage to add perspective to the life of this (in)famous lawyer who was especially interested in seeing that everybody in the court system received representation, no matter what they were accused of.

With the assistance of revealing material including home movies and personal reminisces that recall his life from civil rights lawyer to radicalization and beyond, Sarah and Emily Kunstler provide new insights on such already familiar territory like Chicago 8, Attica and the siege at Wounded Knee. For example they talk to one of the jurors on the Chicago 8 trial jury who was also radicalized by the experience. Along with some interviews with notables, this altogether reveals a complex portrait of a complicated man.
½ July 5, 2014
Fascinating doc about a fascinating man.
March 16, 2014
Highly recommended though I don't necessarily support all his clients.
July 17, 2012
Get to know your Dad on your own time and *then* explain who he was. Given Kuntsler's career, this could've been a tour-de-force of 20th century civil rights, but instead is akin to being shown a family photo album and having them flick past all the interesting pics. Well worth watching if you have no idea who he is, though!
½ January 16, 2012
Very very interesting. It starts a bit slow, or for me it did because I knew a lot about the Chicago trial, but the later issues are very thought provoking.
½ May 18, 2011
An interesting film this. I have never heard of WK but his story is certainly an interesting one and one that draws parallels with Lord Longford and the film Longford which focuses on his working for Myra Hindley the moors murderer.

A lawyer who believed everyone should have the right to representation.

He was a bit of a douchebag with some of the scumbags he represented though.

Liked the film but sadly I can't remember much from only a couple of nights ago.
March 5, 2011
This film is as much as of a journey through William Kunstler's life as it is a child's attempt to truly a parent after their death...great documentary....
January 28, 2011
Rare documentary by the children of the subject that seemingly pulls no punches. The walk thru memory lane of the radical movements of the sixties and 70s, when Kunstler was everywhere, gave way to an embrace of all underdogs, not just those with a political bent, giving pause to his two daughters. This is a complex personality and well worth consideration.
½ January 6, 2011
William Kunstler was a great lawyer and when I say was, is it because that whats the story/docu tells us, the story is told by his own daughter and she gives a really good and loving memory of her father in his great days.

But she also tells the story of a man that loves the lime-light and the attention that he was getting from the media.
He loved his worked, maybe more then his family at times, and he was very passionate about standing up for his believes and the wrong-doing of those with power towards the ones they could oppress.

It is interesting to watch this media person and how he uses the media and court room like a theater and spins them in his direction.
January 2, 2011
A very interesting story. A wonderful homage. Available on Netflix instant.
November 17, 2010
Kunstler's life & work, whether you liked it or not, certainly earned some sort of visual documentation. Apparently it was not going to get it ... until his daughters intervened and created this work.

Given they are neophyte film-makers, this is clearly, amazingly respectable work, though the constant intercession of "oh, we are his daughters and we made this film" in the voiceovers does get tiresome by trail's end. On the flip, the film immensely benefits from the daughters' access to information and materials. Taken in total, obviously a labor of love.

RECOMMENDATION: It's a no-brainer. The further left your politics, the more likely you'll like it. The further right your politics, the more likely you should steer clear.
½ August 13, 2010
Kunstler should not be forgotten
June 29, 2010
The Fred Hampton documentary followed by this one about the attorney who defended so many heroic political activists is putting me in a revolutionary spirit! If you're at all interested in the history of American Civil Rights, the Bill of Rights, and taking a stand for post-conventional justice I recommend you watch WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE.
½ June 23, 2010
Good documentary I caught on PBS. It's not often we get inspiring stories about lawyers, but this man was a truly special one. He really believed in the law, the first amendment, and equality. He had been to war and became a lifelong anti-war activist, he defended the right for black people to live in his neighborhood and was devoted to civil rights. His daughters made this documentary to learn more about him, and it's a very personal look into what made him tick. He was loved and hated, and he had setbacks and defeats, but he also had strong values and conviction. He took cases that seemed awful, but did so because he wanted to make sure the defenders had a fair chance (like in the case of defending Muslim terrorists, he knew that everyone would make judgments based on their being Muslim). He really was an idealist about fairness. His involvement with Attica and Wounded Knee were especially moving. I recommend checking this out!
June 18, 2010
Well..I guess I have a bias. Bill represented me at various actions. Well done and provocative documentary. This will be shown on TV June 22, PVO at 10pm.
½ June 7, 2010
What a wonderful tribute to their father by Sarah and Emily Kunstler! Willliam Kunstler was a lawyer who evolved from a privleged up-bringing in Westchester County NY practicing real estate law and evolved into a lawyer who risked his life to defend people who were powerless in our society. He was smack in the middle of the civil rights movement in the 60s, the black panther movement, the Vietnam war protests, the Indian stand-off at Wounded Knee and the Attica prison riots.

His daughters provide a fair and balanced view of the man they called father. Recommended for those who lived through these times and for those who are interested in learning about these events that had an impact on our nation's history.
May 27, 2010
Amazing documentary.
½ May 11, 2010
i admit to watching entirely too many documentaries lately...this is well done.
½ February 18, 2010
A great view of an important figure. The fact that the daughters were making the movie was not a huge overhanging weight on the movie's neck. This was a political activist, his fatherhood is not filmworthy. But the movie sticks to the lawyer's career and in that sense it was very entertaining. There's even a spoiler-able ending (and I don't mean the fact that he died) for those of us who didn't know the full history. His speech at the end seals the deal for the whole point of his existence. Challenge authority is too easy a way to say it. It's probably in the clip above...
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