Berkeley in the sixties

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It is unwise to mistake a tactic for a root cause. Almost all found the film both educational and entertaining, ranked it better or much better than other classroom films, and thought it the best film on the sixties that they had seen. But it is a big mistake to elevate liberal campus civil liberties issues above resistance, bringing the war home, and other challenges to corporate society. Berkeley in the Sixties is a documentary film about that protest and its origins, conduct, and consequences. The most important result, however, is to reveal the personalities of a number of activists. This latter fact, generally ignored, can be interpreted in a way that enhances our understanding of activism. Governor Ronald Reagan, in an angry outburst in Kitchell's film, blamed activism on young people who had learned that they could get away with disobeying the law. The rebelliousness and rejection of so many institutions and accepted rules of law and order were breathtaking and chaotic, sometimes downright messy and stupid. I remember well a meeting of Students for a Democratic Society at Stanford University, which I covered as a student reporter, where the date for a proposed demonstration was changed after a student explained that Channel 4 would only cover the event on the alternate date. Time after time, we see the eyes of police officers fill with astonishment, even as demonstrators appear on camera nervously wondering whether their actions serve any useful purpose. Some viewers will find this aspect of the film inspirational. Film Review by R. Along the way we hear the music of San Francisco's hippies, encounter Oakland's Black Panthers, and glimpse the first stirrings of the Women's Movement. Her observation rings true, and the bases of idealism are worth examining.

Only upon a second look, and a listen to the sound track, does it become clear that it is also a musically literal, cinematically linear, and timidly liberal interpretation of the sixties.

The manipulative aspects, on both sides, are most evident in this film in the kinds of materials that appear on camera. Such footage, of course, exaggerates the importance of protest and ignores other aspects of the sixties that are perhaps better left to exploration in written form.

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It also has sufficient coherence so that a younger audience can understand not only the events but the meaning that those events had for people who lived through those times. Nonetheless, the first 25 minutes of the film makes a sound connection between the southern Civil Rights experience and the northern campus civil-liberties issues of the FSM.

During the sixties the edge cut both ways. Some people expressed nonconforming independence in quite a different fashion.

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In a country where selfishness and greed have become terminally entrenched, the sixties deserve honest remembrance as a time of mockery, love, sharing, nonconsumerism, and antiwar militancy, along with some adolescent chaos. Such footage, of course, exaggerates the importance of protest and ignores other aspects of the sixties that are perhaps better left to exploration in written form. As a a participant in radical work in the sixties, I found this film better than I had feared it would be. But it is a big mistake to elevate liberal campus civil liberties issues above resistance, bringing the war home, and other challenges to corporate society. All of the above do not fit into the cast of scrubbed-up student activists, nor were they engaged only in civil liberties issues, and most important, none was above or beyond the Cold War. It is action-filled marches and riots in the streets that made the news—and make the movie. Cinematography: Stephen Lighthill. And while some might be thankful that they didn't try to support their simplistic sociological approach with deconstructive or semiological jargon, they could have used the more handy and historically appropriate cultural critique of the Frankfurt School Marcuse, Adorno, Horkheimer-not to mention Leo Lowenthal, who still lives in Berkeley. The climax of this liberal, pre-radical section comes after Mario Savio is seen delivering his impassioned declaration: We don't mean to be made into any product, be they the government, industry, or organized labor. As Todd Gitlin has pointed out, the media not only generated publicity but also projected images of its own choosing and thereby inhibited the movement's development even as the media boosted the movement's importance. Human beings recall their lives not as they have actually lived them, but as they have found meaning in terms of subsequent events and of the ongoing process by which people assimilate their own pasts to their own present. Only upon a second look, and a listen to the sound track, does it become clear that it is also a musically literal, cinematically linear, and timidly liberal interpretation of the sixties. In my own opinion, Kitchell's film is deeper than either Hearts and Minds or The War at Home, two well-known and highly regarded documentaries about the sixties. The rebelliousness and rejection of so many institutions and accepted rules of law and order were breathtaking and chaotic, sometimes downright messy and stupid. We had achieved everything we had set out to achieve in FSM.

As a a participant in radical work in the sixties, I found this film better than I had feared it would be. Historians of the written word, perhaps due to the nature of their sources, seldom have attained such cohesiveness. I remember well a meeting of Students for a Democratic Society at Stanford University, which I covered as a student reporter, where the date for a proposed demonstration was changed after a student explained that Channel 4 would only cover the event on the alternate date.

berkeley in the sixties transcript

Not surprisingly, the film's recollections contain a few minor factual errors, which might have been corrected by reference to written documents. Editor: Veronica Seiver.

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Berkeley in Sixties