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The Trial of the Chicago 7

Based on a true story

Filmmaker Aaron Sorkin was seven years old in 1968. That’s when Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Rennie Davis, and other counterculture activists spearheaded a massive protest in Chicago against the Vietnam War. What started as a peaceful demonstration turned into a televised bloodbath when baton-wielding, tear-gas-spraying Chicago police and National Guard troops turned their fury on the crowd.

The protest organizers were accused by President Nixon’s Department of Justice of criminal conspiracy to incite a riot. The wild, infamous six-month trial that followed was a three-ring circus presided over by the blatantly biased Judge Julius Hoffman. The unjustness of the spectacle helped radicalize millions of disaffected American kids.

Originally tasked by Stephen Spielberg to write a screenplay about the events, Sorkin took over directorial duties after the film was delayed. To unveil the movie before the 2020 election, Sorkin tweaked his screenplay to underline the uncanny similarities between then and now, two eras of fierce American polarization. One inspiration was an old photograph taken outside the courthouse in Chicago, in which pro-government counterprotesters were holding up three signs: “America Love It or Leave It,” “What About White Civil Rights?”, and “Lock Them Up!”

Sorkin is a specialist in verbal pyrotechnics. From "The West Wing" and "The Newsroom" to The Social Network, Moneyball , Steve Jobs, and Molly’s Game, he artfully rides the zeitgeist on waves of fast, funny, flamboyant oratory. Having first made his name writing a courtroom drama (A Few Good Men), he returns to a true-life court case, embellished with flashbacks that examine the evolution of the riot. The transcripts of the trial are colorful in themselves, but Sorkin has rendered history in his own voice.

(Source: David Ansen, Vanity Fair)

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Directed by: 
Aaron Sorkin
Running Time: 
129 minutes
Eddie Redmayne
Alex Sharp
Sacha Baron Cohen
Jeremy Strong
John Carroll Lynch
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Screenplay by: 
Aaron Sorkin

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