The Illinois Parables | Chicago Reader

The Illinois Parables

2016

Deborah Stratman tours the Land of Lincoln, collecting dark stories from its past and contrasting them with the now-peaceful locales where they unfolded. This accomplished essay film (2016) may focus on our state, but Stratman's real concern is state power in the larger sense: many of her 11 stories—constructed from off-screen interviews and archival photos, footage, and documents—involve the persecution of racial and religious minorities by the white Christian establishment. Downstaters have to answer for Golconda, a crossing point for Native Americans driven westward on the Trail of Tears, and Nauvoo, where a mob killed the Mormon leader Joseph Smith; but we Chicagoans are still on the hook for Hyde Park, which gave humanity the atomic bomb, and the Near West Side, where police murdered black activist Fred Hampton in his bed. Connecting all this are sweeping aerial shots that capture the beauty of the plains without obscuring the blood spilled to claim them.

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