During childhood The Vietnam War made a big impression on me. It was easy to see the controversy in simple terms. I remember reading posters and lapel buttons. One poster read, "War is not healthy for children or other living things," yet my childhood recollections were innocent for "Make love, not war." On the other side, I saw bumper stickers exhorting us all to pray for or support our M.I.A.'s and P.O.W.'s.
`The Camden 28' would have been too specific and complicated for me to understand, so it is with greater appreciation I embrace this documentary as an adult. To be brief, twenty-eight people, mostly consisting of devout Catholics, including two priests, but a few Protestants as well, joined together to plan to infiltrate a government facility in Camden, NJ to steal draft records and burn them as their opposition to the Vietnam War. Usually the Catholic Church frowns on disobeying secular authority, but these 28 did so with conviction and at great risk.
Clocking in at less than an hour and a half, the film has recent interviews with some of the key participants. Their memories are sharply honed for detail, and there's plenty of news and "home movie" footage to back up their accounts. 'The Camden 28' squares solidly on the titled participants side, but it also features interviews by the key prosecuting and defense attorneys, giving their take on the whole affair. While I enjoyed their testimony, I also found the amount of material they used and the scope of their focus uses good judgment. Wisely, they spend a little time showing footage of the war, but they also provide newspaper clippings and news conferences documenting how the FBI was on their trail from the beginning of their plan.
There's not much more I wish to share, for it's better to lay it down there as though you, too, are going into this journey for the first time. Even the initiated will appreciate some of the intrigue and insights the story and testimony bring to the viewer. How each participant recalls how they planned the heist and the maneuvering that went on during their famous trial is pretty remarkable. Plus it's good to hear them share their innermost thoughts on all of the events, including recollecting the riots in Camden that preceded their acts of "civil disobedience," as they call it.
While I may not agree entirely with their methods, the "Camden 28" had enough conviction in their beliefs to act out what seem to be "good intentions" for "a worthy cause". See 'The Camden 28' and judge for yourself.