Milestones is Fire-Water-Air-Earth-People. It is a vision of America in the 1970’s and it is also a journey into the past and the future. It is a film with many characters. People who are conscious of a heritage founded on the genocide of the Indians and the slavery of the Black Man. A nation of people – trying to correct the errors of the present – the attempted genocide of the Vietnamese people. Milestones is a complex Proustian mosaic of characters and landscape which weave together to form the fabric of the film. There are many scenes in many cities, faces and voices with endings but many beginnings. The film crosses America from the snow-covered mountains of Vermont, to the waterfalls of Utah, to the caves of the Hopi Indians, and the dirt and grime and energy of New York City. Milestones is a film about Rebirth. It is the rebirth of ideas and faces, of images and sounds. The molded clay of a blind potter is the rebirth of the soil. The deep snow is a promise of spring to come. The birth of a child is symbolic as well as a visual rebirth of the film itself, and a film within the film about the heroic Vietnamese people, is a tribute to their revolutionnary struggle, their victory, and their future. –Quinzaine des Réalisateurs
Robert Kramer was born in New York in 1940. He studied philosophy and Western European History at Swarthmore College and Stanford University.
In the 1960’s he made his mark as the great filmmaker of the American radical left whose first films painted a portrait of a generation of militants marked by their opposition to the war in Vietnam (In the country, The Edge, and Ice). He was the founder and prime mover of the Newsreel movement. He has travelled to Latin America, North Vietnam in the middle of the war (People’s war), then in Portugal after the April Revolution (Scenes from the Class Struggle in Portugal, and Gestos e fragmentos), and in post-independance Angola. Once the most directly political era was over and was captured and represented by Kramer in all its ambiguities and contradictions, he has never stopped reflecting in his films on the “heart of darkness” of the West – that dominating madness that he had shown in Le manteau as a “line that goes through time”. read more
"I had seen their tears and sighs and I had heard their groans and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them.." -- A half-remembered Harriet Tubman quote given in the film that, despite missing exact accuracy, captures the essence of the message.
This quote sums up the spirit of this film in many ways. The accuracy of the film's performances and some of the narrative approaches feel very rough around the edges at times, but the small flaws seem beside the point. This is a film that transcends those shortcomings and manages to convey a greater emotional realism and social complexity. There is a charm to this film that will instantly endear you to it. Watch it.
Filmmakers Robert Kramer and John Douglas interviewed by G. Roy Levin ("Jump Cut") at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival: (http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC10-11folder/KramerDouglasIntLevin.html).
The world in Kramer film is a world beyond ideology and any political stances. It's where emotions could still get in th way n influencing the intellectual convictions. How Kramer peek into a political radicals has never fallen into simply making statements (move aside Godard).its beauty lies within how we live in their world and experiencing fears, doubts and intelligence.Suddenly I feel I over-rated lots of films.