Berkeley in the Sixties | Chicago Reader

Berkeley in the Sixties

Rated NR 117 minutes 1990

A near definitive account of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in the 60s, including the campus protests that preceded and followed it during the decade. Mark Kitchell, the young filmmaker who put this together over six years, combines a vivid oral history recounted by many of the participants (including, among many others, Susan Griffin, Todd Gitlin, Bobby Seale, John Searle, and Chicagoan Jack Weinberg) with fascinating archival footage and still photographs (which feature, among others, Joan Baez, Martin Luther King Jr., Mario Savio, the Grateful Dead, and Governor Ronald Reagan). What emerges is neither a simple exercise in nostalgia nor watered-down, TV-style history, but a detailed inquiry, with a sharp analytical sense of where the Free Speech Movement came from and how it developed, informed throughout by a keen sense of political and historical process. One regrets that Kitchell limited his coverage of the participants' latter-day doings to American Graffiti-style titles at the end—which suggests a form of historical closure that one would like to think a film of this sort would avoid. But in all other respects this is essential viewing.

Film Credits

Director: Mark Kitchell

Writer: Mark Kitchell

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