Movies

The Trial of the Chicago Seven and Judas and the Black Messiah (Reviews)

Trial of the Chicago Seven

A riveting film considering the events are part of history. Heavyweight actors abound in the cast of a film worthy of its many awards.  Mark Rylance, a favorite actor (Dunkirk, Bridge of Spies, Ready Player One), plays the attorney for the defense. Michael Keaton shows up in a special role to name only two.

This film brought to light the confrontations up to and after the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago when a group of activists planned anti-war and counterculture protests at a nearby park.

Justice itself goes on trial here and it’s only before the credits roll that you learn what happened afterward.

 

Justice itself goes on trial here and it’s only before the credits roll that you learn what happened afterward.

A number of people put years of  their own freedom on the line for the freedoms of others. They didn’t all come from the same places, either.  Yet another example of history outplaying fiction for sheer drama.

 

Judas and the Black Messiah

The first thing that struck me as I watched this film was that the events it depicted were over fifty years old, yet so little has changed: people in powerful positions in our society still plot and carry out gross injustices (including murder) upon members of minority groups by race, ethnicity, class, and ideology.

THIS MOVIE and the Trial of the Chicago Seven were well-made films that provide insights into both the heroic and heinous elements and events of that time and, through comparison, this one.  At one point in J&BM, Fred Hampton (played by Daniel Kaluuya who won a number of awards for the role) makes it clear while indoctrinating recruits that

“War is politics with bloodshed and politics is War without bloodshed.”

“War is politics with bloodshed and politics is War without bloodshed.”

The choice between war and politics, as he defined them, was a driving theme in the film.

Martin Sheen played FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, whose agents coerced a young black con man into acting as a spy within the Panthers. Hoover got more aggressive as the Black Panthers’ influence expanded; the Panthers had reached out in solidarity with regional groups–including Hispanic and white, working-class ones–to widen the scope of their influence across the country and increase Hoover’s perception that they represented a threat to society. [the biopic film J. Edgar (2011) hinted at the tremendous scope (and corruption) of Hoover’s power after over 35 years as director.] The movie informs, enthralls, inspires and angers as another lesson of history makes clearer and dearer the price tomorrow of  apathy today.

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