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Movie Review: Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago Seven: An Important Movie for Our Time

By Lauren Azrin

On October 16th, The Trial of the Chicago 7, directed and written by Aaron Sorkin, was released on Netflix. The film is based on a real trial that occurred in 1968, following the protests at the Democratic National Convention, where seven prominent protesters were charged for their involvement with the riots. Now if you’re like me when I first heard this, you’re thinking, how can they be charged for protesting? Isn’t that a first amendment right? These seven men, initially 8, were actually charged with the unique crime of crossing state lines with intent to start a riot, something that nobody had ever even been charged for before.

What really struck me while watching the film was the similarities between the riots then and the riots now. Throughout the film, real footage of the protests was included, their intensity and chaos almost identical to what has been happening this year: police targeting peaceful protesters, abundant arrests, excessive violence.

The similarities between these riots, both decades apart, proves the undying need that people will always have to fight against injustice. Although both riots were violent and, at times, dangerous, it is hopeful to see the power we have to fight back when our government, leaders, or societal expectations don’t support us in the ways we need.

Even at the trial, with a biased judge, a stubborn jury, and the cards more than stacked against them, these men fought back any time an unfair objection was made, any time they didn’t get their fair turn, any time they were disrespected. When I see Americans taking to the streets today, I see this same devotion to making change and unwillingness to give up.

According to Vanity Fair, the idea for his film was actually created by Sorkin in 2007, but was put on the back burner because of budget concerns. I don’t know if production began before or after this year’s dramatic rise in protests, but either way, the film’s release was the perfect time for it to take shape, reminding all of us of the important act of fighting for change, something generations before us have passionately done and something we should feel empowered to do.

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