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Berkeley in the Sixties [DVD] [1990] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Jentri Anders , Joan Baez , Mark Kitchell    DVD

Price: 13.90
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabric of 60s Counterculture Politics: Weaving the Threads 15 Jan 2005
By J. Winokur - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a superb, valuable documentary.

Berkeley was at the epicenter as the counterculture politics of the '60s emerged. And revisiting the political ferment of '60s Berkeley can offer an unusually helpful overview of these interwoven political currents. This film does that very, very well. It rises far,far above films which simply recount the intense experimentation with sex, drugs & rock 'n' roll that eventually characterized the counterculture. This film focuses on the often-less-understood, and fascinating, politics of the time.

The fascinating footage (including early glimpses at Reagan as a
relatively new "pol"), the deft editing, the years-later retrospective reflections of "now-grown-up" participants in the Berkeley "FSM" (Free Speech Movement) -- these are all very engaging, and beautifully assembled. But what makes the film great for me is its clarity in reflecting the interplay of counterculture themes: the movements for free speech and for civil rights, the movement against the Vietnam War, and assertion of the new feminism. Along with the energetic pursuit of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," these elements - blended into one 'tsunami' of a movement -- were experienced by us all coming of age during that time, throughout the US and throughout much of the world. But as a young person during that era, who became very swept up in the self-proclaimed "dawning of the Age of Aquarius," I recall also feeling unclear on how these ideological components -- which otherwise seemed to me distinct and substantively unrelated - became intertwined in the social politics of that era.

Whether the film is slanted, and whether "The Movement" was positive or negative, seem to me besides the point. The Movement was; like it or not, that reality is indisputable. From varying perspectives, our entire culture experienced it, and was affected by it. Most of the many millions of us on college campuses during that time were forever changed -- for good, for ill, or both. This film presents the most coherent depiction I've seen of how this happened, what it's "logic" was - and manages to do so engagingly, without becoming pedantic. That's a whole lot for one film to do, even for someone who respects and loves film as our culture's greatest current art form.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look into Berkeley in the '60s 17 April 2002
By 24fan957 - Published on
Verified Purchase
As a student of American History, this is certainly one of the most interesting films I've had the opportunity to view. From the footage of Mario Savio's arrest at the Regents' forum to the interviews with former Black Panther leaders and also Vietnam draftees, there is a lot of raw human emotion and reaction captured on tape. Truly an excellent documentary that seeks to be more than a documentary-- and succeeds in becoming a true reflection of life.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice 18 Mar 2004
By Alvi Krishna - Published on
I would like to tell you a little bit about the documentary by Mark Kitchell entitled Berkeley in the Sixties. This film is a great synopsis of the 60s civil rights and counter culture movements based out of UC Berkeley. The film was released in 1990 and contains interviews with everybody from members of the Black Panthers to Country Joe and the Fish. It starts at the beginning of the sixties with the events that would eventually lead to the first protest to the hippies and Peoples Park and so on, interviewing people even into the late 80s. The film kept my attention and was very educational.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raises documentary standards... 31 May 2008
By S. P. Cox - Published on
This truly is an exceptionally well researched and presented documentary concerning the events at USC Berkeley in the 1960s.What comes across is that the collection of former students/activists interviewed are intelligent,erudite and committed to social causes:their social zeal did not die with the decade(as is revealed in the "where are they now" segment).However, the documentary is not a total celebration of their experiences;mistakes made and the success/impact of their actions is discussed,with a variety of conclusions being drawn.A small disappointment is the non-appearance of Mario Savio in the interviews:apparently he refused to participate and the documentary is poorer for this.The viewpoint of the "establishment"(university leaders,police,the conservative middle America)would have rounded the documentary out;but these are small quibbles.What remains is a superb piece of social history,with fantastic archival footage,both b/w and colour,accompanied by a soundtrack that complements the action nicely.I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the 1960s,social activism and the search for a better America.My review is dedicated to Michael Rossman,one of the FSM leaders who sadly passed away in May 2008:I applaud your efforts Michael.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Show this to your family, and discuss it. 19 Aug 2008
By Timothy P. Scanlon - Published on
As I graduated from high school in 1970, I was at the latter part of the "student movement" days. In my late 30s, I married a woman who's one of eleven kids, none of whom ever "rebelled," or were part of that era. My spouse now regrets it, envies what I may have experienced. (And I still describe her siblings as "1950s consumers.")

I have a little of a cynical view toward the whole era. I think people often either romanticize it, "The world just changed so much," or they despise it. "The world would be a better place if those kids had learned to respect authority more." While I lean more toward the former, I think both are inaccurate.

The University of California, Berkeley is seen at the beginning of that "era." In fact, the film begins with a guy who was at Harvard. When he saw what was going on in Berkeley, where students were protesting HUAC, he decided to head west.

An interesting little observation: the demonstrators were singing "God Bless America." That's a sample of what one of those interviewed commented on in the film, that they believed so much in the American system, it's that on which they were so passionate.

One of the interviewees referred to it as a "political awakening" that was taking place then.

There was some name calling in those days, a remnant of the McCarthyite 50s. Someone called activist Mario Savio a communist. Well, to this day such absurdities occur, if you note that Barack Obama has been called that by some right wing zealots!

Some of those interviewed in this portion of the film admitted that it was some of the most privledged of Americans who were among the "radicals" of that era. I often point that out to many who make too much out of the era. Anyway, Clark Kerr, the university president, at this point was doing his best to undermine the student movements. After his presentation for a major meeting, Savio attempted a rebuttal and was arrested. If nothing else, I suggest Clark Kerr was a political failure!

Then, of course, the Vietnam war became the issue of the day. The students attempted to close the induction center in Oakland, CA. One day they were encountered by the police, and the next day but the police and the Hell's Angels!

I find here that I'm following my notes, but that gets dry. So I'll cover more highlights.

Reagan was an issue in the film twice. During the 1968 GOP convention he "pandered" to those who didn't have any understanding of what was going on at Berkeley. He used the Berkeley situation to cater to those most turned off to, in the final analysis, submission to authority.

Next, after a "People's Park" incident at UC Berkeley, he confronted the university administration, some of which had at least become more sympathetic with the student movements.

Suffice it to day, at neither time was I any more impressed with Reagan that I ever was.

One interesting dichotomy occurred in the film too. There were several distinctions made between the student movement and the counterculture, the center of which was not far from Berkeley, just across the bay. Most, including myself, usually see the two as the same. But at least one person interviewed said that the counterculture thought of the others as more "establishment." Those of the counterculture really wanted little to do with politics.

Another interesting element, related to the civil rights movement which gave much of the student movement its original impetus, was the Black Panthers. Bobby Seale was one of the founders of the Panthers, and one interviewed for the film. I've always been skeptical of the Panthers. While I've never opposed them, in some ways I found them to be more akin to the mob than activists. As it turned out, there were conflicts between them and the movement, with some cross over, especially of "revolutionary" idealism. In any case, at one point, one person interviewed said that the Panthers came out looking even crazier than they were as they used their more extreme elements for their media appeal. And that both attracted and scared the media and the police.

A real highlight of Berkeley's student movement--or "low"light, if you like, occurred after the establishment of a "People's Park" to which I already referred. It seemed to be a "fusion" point between the counterculture and the student movement. But one of those interviewed said it was "cynical" in a way in that it was set up to evoke a reaction and it did. It was closed, then the students tried to reopen it. Reagan called in the National Guard and they occupied the city for a month or so. At one point, students were allowed onto a portion of the campus, then the Guard wouldn't let them leave. Eventually helicopters flew in and gassed the area of campus with a nausea gas. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for some of those interviewed--and is something all of us should know more about especially if "the media" lean as left as some right wing zealots would have us believe.

All in all, it's a good film. As I said, I tend to be a little skeptical of some of the "movement." So I'm glad the film ended with a frame of each of those interviewed on what they're doing now. Some, on either side of the political spectrum, seem to think that 60s activists are all now insurace co. executives. All but one of those interviewed are still activists. So the "movement" really is something that affected them.

I wish I had space to say more. The film is inspiring, truly. It brings back to me memories of an era where idealism prevailed, not jingoism and consumerism by which we're obsessed today. Watch it, and see if you can inspire anyone else to "get involved" again!
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