The Weather Underground

An awesome documentary, a history lesson that takes us on a lacerating journey from the ’60s anti-war movements to their emotional ripple effects in the modern-day. It focuses on the Weather Underground, a group of young firebrand radicals dedicated, in the words of one of its veterans, to the cause of “the violent overthrow of the government.” These guys wanted the staid, dull, middle-class suburbanites here in America to feel the Vietnam War in their own backyards. They protested the U.S. government’s various policies by setting off bombs in strategic locations throughout the country. The “survivors” from the Underground reflect on their troubled histories, the disillusionment of youth, and the corrupting of their own high ideals. This is an absolutely great film: an unflinching, often graphic, look at the realities of the Vietnam War, its casualties and devastation; it’s an amazing pastiche of a volatile, inspiring era of activism, and, more than anything, it’s a coming of age story of sorts. The kids that once comprised the Underground are now all adults, chastened by the lessons of their past (they embraced an ideology that only marginalized them when it came time to give up their arms and join the “real world”), seasoned by their experience, and ever hopeful and eager for a more just future.

Grade: A

Directed by: Sam Green, Bill Siegel
Cast: Billy Ayers, Kathleen Cleaver, Bernadine Dohrn, Brian Flanagan, David Gilbert, Todd Gitlin, Fred Hampton, Abbie Hoffman, Naomi Jaffe, Martin Luther King

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