A Present Reflection of the Past
Riley Guay, Staff Writer
As 2020 comes to a close, we naturally begin to reflect on the events of these last 12 months. Although 2020 could be described in any number of ways, it has not been a year characterized by silent compliance in the face of grave injustice. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor prompted a nation-wide surge of the Black Lives Matter movement through protests on a scale that our country has not seen in quite some time. A similar sentiment is portrayed in the movie “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, which debuted on Netflix earlier in October.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is a historical drama depicting the experiences of a group of anti-Vietnam War activists as they made ready to protest at the Democratic National Convention in August of 1968. Despite their insistence that their protests would have been peaceful and a lack of evidence suggesting otherwise, each of the men were wrongfully arrested and charged with conspiring to cross state lines in order to incite violent riots.
The trial plays out over the course of the film is anything but fair. There are numerous instances where the official presiding over the case, Judge Julius Hoffman, abuses his power. Such an instance occurs when he dismisses jury members who he felt were too sympathetic towards the defendants, and proceeds to add charges of attempting to contempt the court to the men and their legal team. In defending his actions, Hoffman indicated that members of the Black Panther Party had sent threatening letters to the residences of jury members to secure a favorable ruling for the men, but this was never proven one way or the other.
Judging by the metrics provided by Netflix, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” has done very well on the streaming platform. Following its release, it was the 2nd most-streamed film during its debut weekend. Netflix also indicated that it was the 8th most watched straight-to-digital film of 2020. Online reviews hold it in equally high regard, as it boasts a 90% critic review on Rotten Tomatoes, a well-known review website for American film and television.
Aaron Sorkin, the film’s director, indicated that plans for the movie started as early as 2006, and that no one could have foreseen the events of 2020 making the film’s historical context blisteringly relevant once again. “At his rallies, Trump started being nostalgic about the ‘good old days’ of beating up protestors and the movie became relevant again,” expressed Sorkin. “At that time, I had no idea how relevant it would become with the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.”
Although it depicts a historical event from the late 1960’s, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is a dramatization of problems our society is still facing today, such as the unwarranted abuse of power and racial prejudice. With a poignant conclusion and enthralling presentation throughout, this is a must-watch for all social justice conscientious viewers.