WEATHER UNDERGROUND, THE
Fuelled by outrage over racism and the Vietnam war, members of The Weather Underground waged an internal war to overthrow the US Government from 1969 to the mid 70s, bombing targets they considered emblematic of the violence the US was wreaking throughout the world. The clandestine group managed to evade a giant FBI manhunt. Former members of the Underground, including Bernardine Dohrn, Bill ayers, Mark Rudd, David Gilbert and Brian Flanagan speak publicly for the first time about their activities, including the violence that attended their actions, from armed robberies to bombings.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Breaking away from – and taking its structure from - the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) The Weather Underground was an ideal-driven group of students, similar to many such groups around the world through modern history. This film profiles the movement with a great sense of context – and truth is context. It helps us understand them, even if we cannot condone their actions, which didn’t make the left look good – but it did show the depth of feeling in society, and the film reminds us that when peaceful revolution is made impossible, violent revolution is inevitable, in John F. Kennedy’s words.
The movement took its name from a Bob Dylan song; “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” – meaning that anyone could see the coming revolution. This was a relatively late flowering of theoretical communist principles, in response to the Vietnam war. And we know the importance of history; Vietnam was yesterday, but just adjust your time tuner and the world is facing the same problems.
In one chilling moment, Brian Flanagan of the Weathermen recalls how the group wanted to “deliver the most horrific hit the US Government had ever suffered on its territory…” He later warns of the dangers of using the moral high ground to justify such acts, “like terrorists..” That’s why this is an important film, and because it doesn’t judge, it doesn’t blur the elements to suit a political agenda. It does have an agenda, though: to raise the questions inherent in the story. The directors articulate it clearly: “We hope to encourage a broad debate of some of the most important issues of our time.
What would real social justice look like? What is our responsibility as Americans for the inequalities of globalism? How do we define violence and terrorism? Can violence ever be justified in the pursuit of social change?” They don’t pretend to have the answers.
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WEATHER UNDERGROUND, THE (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring members of the radical 70s group, The Weather Underground
PRODUCER: Sam Green, Bill Siegel, Carrie Lozano, Marc Smolowitz
DIRECTOR: Sam Green, Bill Siegel
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Black, Federico Salsano
EDITOR: Sam Green, Dawn Logsdon
MUSIC: Dave Cerf, Amy Domingues
PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: October 2, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
VIDEO RELEASE: March 30, 2005