Engaging, even experiential, Chicago 10 eschews a traditional documentary approach to capture the playful exuberance of the yippie generation. Through animation and rare video footage, producer-director Brett Morgen brings Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and their experiences of the infamous Chicago 7 trial to life, in turn allowing them to bring a message of resistance that transcends decades. I recently spoke with Morgen.
SFBG What inspired you to make this film?
BRETT MORGEN There was political inspiration and then there was filmic inspiration.
We conceived of the film around 2002, when the US had just invaded Afghanistan and they were talking about going into Iraq. It didn’t seem like there were that many people out protesting. Greg Carter, the producer, came to me and asked what I thought about making a film on the Chicago 7 because those guys were like rock stars, they totally inspired him when he was young.
I told him I grew up in the ’80s, with the weight of the ’60s on my shoulders. My generation was constantly being told that we’d never be as passionate or as vibrant or as impactful. So I said, "I don’t want to make a film with that holier-than-thou attitude. If we’re going to make a film about this period, ultimately to reintroduce it to generations of Americans who haven’t been exposed to this story, let’s do it in the language of the youth movement today."
The world doesn’t need another movie about ’68 scored by Buffalo Springfield and music that’s really the soundtrack to our parents’ lives. This [film] isn’t a history lesson; this isn’t a movie that’s even about ’68. It’s really a fable for all times: there’s a war, there’s opposition to a war, and there’s a government that’s trying to silence the opposition.
Opens Fri/29 at Shattuck Cinemas