by Daphna Whitmore
Robert Redford directs and acts in the movie, which is based on a novel by Neil Gordon about the sixties’ militant left group the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground grew out of anti-Vietnam War protests and were a faction of Students for a Democratic Society, a mass movement with 100,000 members.
Redford made the movie on a $1 million budget. He is a genuine left-liberal and his pulling power is clear with politically-conscious stars like Julie Christie and Susan Sarandon and plenty more big names – Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson – working for next to nothing.
Sarandon plays a fictional Sharon Solarz, formerly a member of the Weather Underground, who has been living in suburbia for thirty years under an assumed identity. Her arrest sets the stage for an FBI manhunt for others in her group. Will she disavow her revolutionary past? Not likely. Instead she explains her motivation to the ignorant young journalist played by Shia LaBeouf.
She tells him people were drawn into a movement against the murderous system and government waging genocide in Vietnam. There was the My Lai massacre, the killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State, the use of the draft; you got a number and waited to be sent overseas to fight a dirty war. The Weathermen decided civil disobedience and peaceful protests were not getting them anywhere, and they wanted to “bring the war home”. There was a revolution going on: “Japan, France, Angola — and I wanted to be part of it. . . If we sat at home while our country committed genocide — that was violence.” Sarandon’s character challenges the reporter about what he is willing to take a risk for. For her part yes, she would do it again, but “smarter, better, different. We made mistakes, butwe were right,” she says. Read the rest of this entry »