Berkeley in the Sixties

Overview

Berkeley in the Sixties takes a fond, if not always loving, look back at the epicenter of leftist political activism during the seventh decade of the 20th century. The free speech movement caught national attention in 1964 when the University of California tried to suppress activists distributing literature and making speeches in an outdoor plaza on campus. On December 3, Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown ordered the arrest of demonstrators who had occupied the University's Sproul Hall; over 1,500 protestors were taken...
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Overview

Berkeley in the Sixties takes a fond, if not always loving, look back at the epicenter of leftist political activism during the seventh decade of the 20th century. The free speech movement caught national attention in 1964 when the University of California tried to suppress activists distributing literature and making speeches in an outdoor plaza on campus. On December 3, Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown ordered the arrest of demonstrators who had occupied the University's Sproul Hall; over 1,500 protestors were taken into custody in what was then the largest mass arrest in U.S. history. The escalation of the Vietnam War kept the winds of dissent blowing in Berkeley, and TV coverage of the 1964 demonstrations and subsequent clashes with the police fueled similar protests on other campuses. Off-campus, Berkeley was also home to a strong chapter of the Black Panther Party, which offered a more violent alternative to the established civil rights organizations. Vintage clips of the demonstrations and official reactions to them from Brown and his successor, Ronald Reagan, are supplemented by contemporary interviews with activists and observers who offer both reminiscences of and perspectives on the period.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Taking a cue from Warren Beatty's Reds, director Mark Kitchell seasons clips of the 1960s protests at the University of California with current-day interviews with assorted activists, musicians (Country Joe and the Fish's Barry Melton, who went on to become a lawyer), and other observers -- in effect, his own equivalent of Beatty's collection of leftist "witnesses." Unfortunately, Mario Savio, the lightning rod for the first round of free speech demonstrations, does not take the stand for Kitchell's inquiry. This is history written mainly by the opposition; officials such as the University's Clark Kerr and the two governors involved, Edmund "Pat" Brown and Ronald Reagan, are seen only in the historical clips. Kitchell's sympathies are clear, but this is not a one-sided interpretation. Some of the witnesses are willing to admit to tactical errors and a full measure of youthful hubris, though they're in agreement on the subject of official overreaction to the protests, particularly from Reagan. His spirit hovers over this film, which was released in the warm afterglow of his popular presidency. Kitchell was certainly not riding a wave of nostalgia for the '60s, which during the Reagan and Bush presidencies became regarded as the era in which America lost its way. That makes the accomplishment of this clear-eyed historical document all the more impressive.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/6/2009
  • UPC: 604388724901
  • Original Release: 1990
  • Source: Ais
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 74,176

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mario Savio
Clark Kerr
Joan Baez
Allen Ginsberg
Bobby Seale
Barry Melton
Technical Credits
Mark Kitchell Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Stephen Lighthill Cinematographer
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