DAVID BIANCULLI

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NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
October 16, 2020  | By David Bianculli

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

 
MOVIE PREMIERE: Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed this new take on the 1969 trial of the Chicago 7 – originally, the Chicago 8. They were various revolutionary leaders put on trial by the Nixon administration, which claimed conspiracy as the cause of the protests and violence outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There have been other dramatizations of this trial, which took six months in 1969, and was derailed from several angles: the outrageously eccentric and conservative Judge Julius Hoffman, the outrageously playful and antic Abbie Hoffman, and the outraged Black Panther leader Bobby Seale, whose angry remarks to the judge resulted in the judge ordering Seale to be not only silenced in court – but chained to his chair and gagged. Sorkin didn’t have to make any of this up – it’s all in the transcripts – but he does add flashbacks putting the testimony into perspective, and widening the drama and action outside the courtroom. And by casting Frank Langella as Judge Hoffman, Sorkin makes it more of a battle. His take is better than the previous dramatized versions of this trial, HBO’s Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8 in 1987 and the 2010 film The Chicago 8. For my full review on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, visit the Fresh Air website.
 
 
 
 
 
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