11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2001
Both movies "Before -" and "After Stonewall" were absolutely marvelous. I have never seen a documentary were I was moved to tears one moment and laughed hysterically the next. The information, historic background, political positions and sociological struggles are thoroughly portrayed in a collage of social events and true live stories told by the people who lived it! Both the narrators and interviewed celebrities reflect upon society in its modification and growth through resistance. I was so pleased with the movies that I could not wait but to add them to my own collection. The movies show a unique cross section of the music, the writing (!) and the people who changed our environment to the liberated society we live in today.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
In 1969 it was illegal to be gay in New York City. Gay bars were usually mafia owned and survived by making pay offs to the police, but now and then officers were instructed to crack down and make arrests. This was exactly the situation at The Stonewall, a dive bar in New York's Greenwich Village, on 27 June--but on this occasion the handful of patrons didn't go quietly into the paddy wagon. The attacked the police, and when the police took cover inside the bar itself, the patrons tried to set fire to it. The incident resulted in a full-fledged riot that ran off and on for several days, shutting down a large chunk of New York City and causing horrible traffic snarls as drivers tried to circumvent the riot zones.
Gays and lesbians will tell you that it was the turning point in the struggle for equal rights. I myself am not so sure. For one thing, there had been arrests and riots before; there had been protests before; and in actual fact the Stonewall Riots didn't actually receive much news coverage--newspapers and televisions of the time didn't want to carry stories about "perverts" and not many people outside New York City knew anything about the riots at all. In my opinion, the true turning point of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement came about a decade later, when Harvey Milk demonstrated that a gay man could be elected to office in a major city and when Anita Bryant made the discover that the gay and lesbian community had enough clout to get her fired as spokes woman for Florida orange juice.
That said, BEFORE STONEWALL was one of the first documentaries to cover the issue of gay and lesbian equality. It suffers from the usual notion that America consists of New York and California and there's nothing else in between, and it works hard to paint a rosy picture of a period during which gays and lesbians suffered tremendously, facing everything from arrest to institutionalization. The follow up AFTER STONEWALL is a bit more realistic in its depiction of the rights movement, but it tends to play fast and loose with time lines and occasionally mis-links events. The over all effect is a bit odd: sometimes up, sometimes down, and usually one when the other would be more appropriate.
The documentaries include a host of famous faces ranging from Larry Kramer to Rita Mae Brown to Martin Duberman to the much loved and widely hated Harry Hay, although you won't hear anything about why he is as disliked as he is admired. The sound bites are just that, sound bites, and while the documentaries are interesting, they're really more entertaining than they are actually informative. We get to see Anita Bryant get a pie in the face, but not a word is said about the San Francisco riots following Harvey Milk's assassination. Recommended, but be aware that this is far, far, far from the full story.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer