Berkeley in the Sixties


Documentary / History

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 76%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 673

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 16, 2021 at 02:34 AM



Nancy Reagan as Self
1.05 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 57 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lionheartlev 10 / 10

Fabric of '60s Counterculture Politics : Weaving the Threads via Berkeley

This is a superb, valuable documentary.

Berkeley was at the epicenter as the counterculture politics of the '60s emerged. And revisiting the political ferment of '60s Berkeley can offer an unusually helpful overview of these interwoven political currents. This film does that very, very well.

The fascinating footage (including early glimpses at Reagan as a relatively new "pol"), the deft editing, the years-later retrospective reflections of "now-grown-up" participants in the Berkeley "FSM" (Free Speech Movement) -- these are all very engaging, and beautifully assembled. But what makes the film great for me is its clarity in reflecting the interplay of counterculture themes: the movements for free speech and for civil rights, the movement against the Vietnam War, and assertion of the new feminism. Along with the energetic pursuit of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," these elements – blended into one 'tsunami' of a movement -- were experienced by us all coming of age during that time, throughout the US and throughout much of the world. But as a young person during that era, who became very swept up in the self-proclaimed "dawning of the Age of Aquarius," I recall also feeling unclear on how these ideological components -- which otherwise seemed to me distinct and substantively unrelated – became intertwined in the social politics of that era.

Whether the film is slanted, and whether "The Movement" was positive or negative, seem to me besides the point. The Movement was; like it or not, that reality is indisputable. From varying perspectives, our entire culture experienced it, and was affected by it. Most of the many millions of us on college campuses during that time were forever changed -- for good, for ill, or both. This film presents the most coherent depiction I've seen of how this happened, what it's "logic" was – and manages to do so engagingly, without becoming pedantic. That's a whole lot for one film to do, even for someone who respects and loves film as our culture's greatest current art form.

Reviewed by bandw 10 / 10

Touches on all the major political themes of the decade

Trying to delineate the happenings in Berkeley during the 1960s in under two hours is a daunting task and this film does so rather impressively. By interleaving documentary footage with interviews (some twenty years later) of several of the more aggressive activists as they look back and try to describe and interpret what happened makes for absorbing history. All the interviewees are thoughtful and well spoken and have stayed engaged over the years. It is curious that Mario Savio, the most well-known of the activists, was not interviewed.

Much credit for the quality of the final product must ultimately go to the editors. The events are logically developed and we can see how certain events lead, almost inevitably, to others.

Most people tend to identify the political activism in the 60s with the Vietnam protests, but this film broadens the perspective significantly. Things began rather innocently with a student protest at a hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in San Francisco in 1960, the main issue being HUAC's indifference to civil liberties. The official reaction to the protest was extreme: fire hoses were turned on the protesters, people were dragged down the city hall stairs, and many arrests were made. The lesson is that extreme acts beget extreme reactions and the next day thousands of protesters showed up - they were labeled communist dupes. The direct result of these protests was pressure on the University to control the actions of its students and this resulted in the University's closing down a long-established area outside the campus gates where activists of all persuasions gathered daily. This led to the Free Speech Movement (FSM), which led to sit-ins and much controversy, to the point where the University was on the verge of being paralyzed. At one of the sit-ins a chancellor of the University announced that the students had grossly impaired the University from doing its job; this announcement was greeted with applause. This is an example of how this film shows the way one thing leads to another; it gets at root causes.

When the Berkeley Faculty voted seven-to-one in favor of the students in the FSM then, after several more iterations, victory was conceded to the students.

We see the seeds of the civil rights movement with documentary footage of Martin Luther King. One of King's clips is of a speech where he says, "When we look at modern man we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of spirit which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance. We've learned to fly the allied birds, we've learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven't learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters." How could a young person not be moved by that? Or anyone, as far as that goes. Barack Obama may be an eloquent orator, but he does not compare to King.

One of the most interesting interviewees was John Searle, a philosophy professor at the University. He made some of the most insightful comments. While it appeared to many that the FSM was, as one of Searle's colleagues put it, a civil-rights panty raid, Searle commented that beneath it all was a real underlying seriousness and that there was a tremendous sense of community. However, Searle also noted that the movement attracted the greatest collection of kooks and nuts ever seen and he held media hype partly responsible for that.

Some of the successes led to excesses. An example was the People's Park episode. A group took over vacant land owned by the University and made improvements to it, and then claimed it for public use. When the University moved in and bulldozed the park and fenced it off, some were indignant. But any sane person would have known that this kind of land confiscation was not going to fly. But there was a crazy, unrealistic spirit of revolution abroad at the time. I remember talking with people at the time who, in all seriousness, prefaced comments with, "When the revolution comes."

There are some fun elements. When Allen Ginsberg was asked what he made of things he responded with a Buddhist chant, and upon entering the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco a tour bus driver announced that they were entering the only foreign city within the country.

In the latter part of the decade the focus turned to Vietnam, which is what the decade is most remember for. What happened in Berkeley did not stay in Berkeley, since massive protests occurred throughout the country and they played a part in bringing the war to an end. When President Johnson was thinking of escalating the war J. Edgar Hoover told him that he could not guarantee the security of the country if he did that. If there were a draft in the United States today, we would not be in Iraq.

As things were getting a little crazy toward the end of the decade, John Searle summed the counterculture up quite eloquently, "There was no vision, no articulate philosophy, no conception of social organization and social change, what there were were a series of emotional outbursts, a series of passions, a series of desperately important issues, but you can't beat something with nothing and if you're gonna fight that kind of long cultural battle you're really bound to lose if you don't have a coherent, articulate, well-worked notion of what you're trying to do, and that they did not have."

No matter how they played it out, you have to credit the young people of the sixties with being right on free speech, on civil rights, on the women's movement, and on Vietnam. Understanding what happened in the 60s is essential to understanding where we are in the United States today and this film contributes to that understanding.

Reviewed by joeflaco 8 / 10

great documentary.. educational, inspirational and nostalgic

I really enjoyed watching this film... mostly for educational reasons. Being born in 1972, I was not around for the activism of the 60's. Much like most people of my generation, we've heard stories about the 60's, listened to music of the times, etc. However, this film really made me see the various activism of the 60's in a different light. I have a new respect for what students at Berkeley and others were trying to accomplish. You can't help but feel admiration for many of the people interviewed and shown in this film. The film made me contemplate about a lot of issues, as well as puts a new and refreshing perspective on people. It covers plenty of topics without rushing the viewer through them. It's great to explore this small piece of history and see how it effects life today in the 21st century... makes you think about how far or how little we've come since then. As a footnote...The film contains some really interesting footage of Ronald Reagan when he was Governor of California.

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