Release Date: Feb. 29
Director/Writer: Brett Morgen
Head of Animation: Joao G. Amorim
Starring [voices]: Hank Azaria, Mark Ruffalo, Nick Nolte, Roy Scheider
Studio/Run Time: Roadside Attractions, 103 mins.
Rabble-rousing documentary ?nds lessons in 1968
Short on nuance but long on passion, Brett Morgen’s Chicago 10 takes a loud, rock-laden look at the protests that shook the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and the personalities that led the revolt: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and their band of irreverent troublemakers, who came to be known as the Chicago 7. Morgen not only uses new math, but he also recreates the gradual boil-over from peaceful gathering to chaos by augmenting ample, close-range footage with the kind of sonic boom that seldom accompanies political documentaries. And where he lacks footage—namely for the circus of a trial that followed the riot—he conjures the scene with striking digital animation.
The “yippies” who gathered in Chicago objected to Lyndon Johnson’s support of the Vietnam War, and that’s as deep as Morgen goes into the politics. He’s created a portrait of action, not policy, sending a simple message to his present-day audience: if you don’t like what your government is doing, get off your ass. He’s taken Hoffman not only as a protagonist but as a model, which may explain why he counterintuitively uses so much recent music—the movie’s only blatant connection to 2008.