The film captures the mood of the US in the Sixties wonderfully. As a film it falters though it has the stamp of Wexler's amazing cinematic eye we saw in every film he was involved with. Verna Bloom in the canary yellow dress resembles the bird in a forest of good and bad forces. The end is good and bad. Good because it links with the opening sequence; bad because it is not adequately explained as what caused it.
One of the most important American films of all time, certainly the most radical thing at the time that a major studio had ever (fearfully, tentatively) distributed (stamped w/ X rating). This is a hybrid film as indebted to direct cinema as it was Godard (and Coutard). And: August '68. America's May. This is a dispatch from early in the era of the 'media event,' and the crystallization of an emergent fatalism.
The politics of spectatorship, the role of the cameraman as detached from the event as observer of the participants in frame; then becoming the observed, due to a car crash; rubberneckers become the voyeuristic observers, reversing the role of spectator and spectated. Wexler poses serious questions about our society's film ethics: a new era questioning the self-conscious postmodern complex of those raised on media.
Oh Haskell, why didnt you direct more often? This is an underappreciated gem that, given the uneasy 2016 election cycle, feels like a time that could very easily repeat itself. Great editing, and being from WV, a decent portrayal of country folk without going full on redneck mocking. 5 stars, a must see, and the blu ray transfer is fantastic!
This sat near the top of my "to-watch" list for years, and I realized I was scared to watch it – it just seemed so cool, and so capable of disappointing me. The last twenty minutes, documentary footage of the '68 Chicago Democratic Nat'l Convention that combines nonfiction with narrative film, is a masterpiece and saves the bloated, pointless, pretentious first 80 minutes from dragging everything down to 1 star.
Written/directed/photographed by Haskell Wexler, this film is loaded with so many incredible people, ideas, events and images. Half of it is staged (fabulously), half real (horrifyingly real). Look carefully and see Jesse Jackson in the crowd. Hear Mayor Daley ignore passionate protesters who ask him to stop the violence.Essential Cinema and must-see for anyone interested in the social upheaval in USA in the 1960's.
Really a depiction of a specific time and place more than anything, with all the cameraman as spectator vs. participant stuff more of a pretext. Which is fine as 68' Chicago is fascinating and Wexler seems more interested in digression than he does with progression. Time and place wise the riots are the least interesting part as they've been shown in other films and the whole sequence feels like an arbitrary climax.
Few filmmakers, not even Kiarostami, have so deftly dealt with the issue of how real or how active cinema can be. This one stands as a troubling challenge: in a society where images are routinely and apathetically created to be consumed, will the process end with consumption, or will you do something? 4 out of 5 stars.