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  • Feb 16, 2009
In March of 1968 a secret meeting of anti-war groups took place in northern Illinois to discuss what types of protests should be organized for the Democratic National Convention to be held in Chicago that year. The discussions were led by two groups; MOBE (Mobilization Against the War) represented by David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, and Tom Hayden and the newly formed YIPPIES (Youth International Party) represented by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. The protests were being stepped up in response to President Lyndon Johnson's increased involvement in Vietnam which so far had resulted in nearly 20,000 American dead and countless wounded. In addition to the draft call being increased from 17,000 "over a period of time" to 35,000 per month, Johnson had also increased American military presence from 75,000 to 125,000 in one fell swoop.

The two groups had very different approaches to the anti-war movement. MOBE was a traditional group with straight forward, easily understood methods. "We are coming to Chicago...not to disrupt the convention, not to confront the police, the National Guard troops, or the men of the United States Army. But to challenge the policies of militarization that have been felt so strongly and brutally in Vietnam," said MOBE co-founder Rennie Davis. The YIPPIES on the other hand were wild and crazy guys who believed that politics had become all lights and magic with which the current administration dazzled and then duped the public. Abbie Hoffman said,"...politics is the way you live not who you support. It's not in terms of rallies or speeches or political programs. It's in terms of image and transforming people's lives." When you put the MOBE and the YIPPIES together something was going to happen--and Chicago's despotic Mayor Richard Daley wasn't going to like it.

CHICAGO 10 is an exciting, vibrant recreation of the anti-war protests surrounding the Democratic Convention that resulted in the arrests and subsequent trials of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, John Froines, and Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panthers who had only been IN Chicago for 2 or 3 hours at the time of the demonstration! You may say, that's only 8 and you're right. The other 2 are their lawyers Leonard Weinglass and William Kunstler, who racked up almost 5 years in contempt of court charges during the course of the trial. The film is composed of both live action footage of the real events (most notably the actual the attempts to march upon the convention center and later attacks by police and National Guardsmen upon the marchers) and animation that looks as if it were rotoscoped. The animation is used primarily for the courtroom scenes and uses an extremely colorful palette that gives everything a garish, almost carnival-like appearance--which is very appropriate given the nature of the trial. This is such a beautifully crafted film that I'm afraid I could never do it justice. The real tale is told as two threads, one of the trial and the other of the protest march that finally twist together to form the complete story of  who these people really were and what actually happened in Chicago. 

How you respond to CHICAGO 10 will (alas) probably be determined by your political leanings. If you're a conservative who feels that all forms of bureaucracy should be revered then you will undoubtedly feel little sympathy for the protesters as they get the bejesus beaten out of them by the Chicago cops, who still have a tendency to do that to innocent people for no apparent reason on occasion. If you were a liberal who remembers those days then this film is a great way to see how old you really are. If you now look at these guys as rude little bastards who had it coming, then you should probably fill out that card that the AARP sent you because you are now officially old and your new found conservative views reflect your age. As for me, I always found Abbie Hoffman to be rude and abrasive. and I doubted that the YIPPIE'S theatrical antics, such as their attempt to levitate the Pentagon, were ever helpful to the peace movement. But nobody deserved what Daley dished out. The whole world WAS watching us in 1968 and what they saw was a nation that sadly couldn't live up to it's own standards.

 HYPE FACTOR: Very little.

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April 12, 2010
Great review my good lady, as always you write it like no other.
April 12, 2010
Thank you alex. This is something that I really do believe in. When are you going to start posting here?
February 21, 2010
I'm not sure I could stomach this film...I tend to fall into the conservative camp that would "feel little sympathy for the protesters" but am not quite old enough to fill out an AARP card or actually remember these events first-hand. But then again, my film tastes tend to be eclectic and I often enjoy films that I might otherwise think I would dislike.
February 21, 2010
I had been planning on going but was just a bit tied up being very pregnant. Chicago cops still ear their reputations by beating people up for no apparent reason from time to time.
October 08, 2009
Somewhere, recently I saw that Spielberg was working on a similar project. Not sure he's the right kind of guy for it though. Good review, Queenie.
October 08, 2009
I'm not sure he is either, Count. You'd expect someone more like Stone to be doing this. But that might make it more interesting. There's a film version out of Abbie Hoffman's book "Steal This Book" aptly entitled STEAL THIS MOVIE, with Vincent D'Onofrio as Hoffman. He had a good reason to be paranoid, which he obviously later became, but D'Onofrio plays him as manic depressive.
February 19, 2009
I was surprised that this never played a theater in my area, but then maybe it isn't all that surprising that it wouldn't be booked heavily in Daley's backyard. Thanks for the book recommendation.
February 18, 2009
Excellent review. I love stuff like this. I will be on the lookout for this. Last year I read a book called "Ravens In the Storm" by Carl Oglesby that talked about the struggles within the anti-war movement at that time and how the radicals like William Ayres and Bernadette Dorhn eventually gained control of the movement. A fascinating read.
February 18, 2009
It really was. Although I am positive there was a lot of cop baiting going on (name calling, oinking, etc) it was basically a peaceful protest march. Claims have been made that outsiders were planted in the march to instigate violence so that the cops could move in. I wouldn't doubt anymore than I would doubt that there were also some factions represented in the march that welcomed the chance to hassle the cops.
February 18, 2009
Chicago cops have really earned their reputation for being brutal. In the 2 years I've been here there have been at least 4 cases that I can think of off the top of my head. The first one happened after I'd been here only a few months. An off duty cop got ticked at a female bartender and went behind the bar and just beat the hell out of her. They tried to cover it up but it wasn't easy since it was recorded by the bar's security camera! I think they're worse here than they are in New York or L.A. or any place else. Probably because they all belong to Dayley. Can you believe that there's still a Dayley in charge of this city?
February 17, 2009
Things get a little strange around here, but at least it isn't ammie strange.
February 17, 2009
huh? what happened to my comment? I wrote a great comment too...oh well, excellent write up as always, Karen!
February 16, 2009
I think that if nothing else you would appreciate the animated approach. It was written and directed by Brett Morgen. It was actually a fairly peaceful protest, with no violence on the part of the protestors at all. But after dark on the last day things started getting pretty ugly and the cops, predictably, went wacko.
About the reviewer
karen ()
I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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Movies, Drama Movies, Drama, Mobe, Vietnam Antiwar Movement, 1968 Democratic Convention, Animation Documentary, Yippies
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