Friday, September 05, 2008

Chicago 10

I missed Chicago 10 during its theatrical realease, as it was shown only in large cities, while I was in Bloomington, Illinois and Elkhart, Indiana. It's out on DVD now, and it's well-worth the price. The film mixes actual footage from the demonstrations and the "Festival of Life" during the 1968 Democratic Convention with an animated re-enactment of the Chicago Eight conspiracy trial, in which eight members of the Yippies, the Mobilization Against the War, and the Black Panthers (Bobby Seale) were tried for crossing state lines to incite a riot. (When Seale was separated from the rest of the defendants, it was known as the Chicago Seven trial.) The name "Chicago 10" was taken from a quote from Jerry Rubin: "Anyone who calls us the Chicago Seven is a racist. Because you're discrediting Bobby Seale. You can call us the Chicago Eight, but really we're the Chicago Ten, because our two lawyers went down with us."

Brett Morgen's film was particulary impressive because it provided archival film not easily available, especially of the Lincoln Park police attacks. It gives me a much better idea of the actions of the crowds and the police, which until now, I've had to glean from books and newspaper articles.

Morgen was born in October 1968, after the police riots of August. Because he could look at the events without having lived through them, he gives us a fresh view. I was disappointed that the DVD did not have additional archival footage in the special features. Perhaps we'll get something like that in a subsequent DVD resease. But Chicago 10 is simply a fascinating movie, both in the use of archival footage and the brilliance of the voice actors. Roy Scheider as Judge Julius Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright as Bobby Seale, and Dylan Baker as David Dellinger stand out, but all the voice actors are thoroughly believable. According to the Wikipedia article, there will be two more Chicago 10 films. I'll be looking forward to them.


Charles Gramlich said...

I don't know much about the Chicago 7, or 8 or 10. I've heard it as the 7.

steve said...

Charles--I first heard the Rubin quote in a Terry Gross interview with Brett Morgen. The two lawyers for the Seven, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, were convicted of contempt by Judge Hoffman. The convictions of all 10 were eventually reversed.

In spite of the fact that this was a demonstration against the Democrats, it was the Nixon Administration under Attorney General John Mitchell, which chose to prosecute the Chicago Eight. That's the sort of detail that should have been in a DVD extra.