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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabric of 60s Counterculture Politics: Weaving the Threads
This is a superb, valuable documentary.

Berkeley was at the epicenter as the counterculture politics of the '60s emerged. And revisiting the political ferment of '60s Berkeley can offer an unusually helpful overview of these interwoven political currents. This film does that very, very well. It rises far,far above films which simply recount the intense...
Published on January 14, 2005 by J. Winokur

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Made Me Feel Old
Somewhat interesting. I found myself concentrating on looking for faces I recognized, which is something of a distraction, but it is a historical review of a pivotal time at a pivotal place. The commentators are all people who were involved in the 1960s; there are no independent voices of historians or journalists or whatever. The story is told by those who were...
Published on May 12, 2012 by Barbara Frederick


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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabric of 60s Counterculture Politics: Weaving the Threads, January 14, 2005
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This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
This is a superb, valuable documentary.

Berkeley was at the epicenter as the counterculture politics of the '60s emerged. And revisiting the political ferment of '60s Berkeley can offer an unusually helpful overview of these interwoven political currents. This film does that very, very well. It rises far,far above films which simply recount the intense experimentation with sex, drugs & rock 'n' roll that eventually characterized the counterculture. This film focuses on the often-less-understood, and fascinating, politics of the time.

The fascinating footage (including early glimpses at Reagan as a
relatively new "pol"), the deft editing, the years-later retrospective reflections of "now-grown-up" participants in the Berkeley "FSM" (Free Speech Movement) -- these are all very engaging, and beautifully assembled. But what makes the film great for me is its clarity in reflecting the interplay of counterculture themes: the movements for free speech and for civil rights, the movement against the Vietnam War, and assertion of the new feminism. Along with the energetic pursuit of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," these elements - blended into one 'tsunami' of a movement -- were experienced by us all coming of age during that time, throughout the US and throughout much of the world. But as a young person during that era, who became very swept up in the self-proclaimed "dawning of the Age of Aquarius," I recall also feeling unclear on how these ideological components -- which otherwise seemed to me distinct and substantively unrelated - became intertwined in the social politics of that era.

Whether the film is slanted, and whether "The Movement" was positive or negative, seem to me besides the point. The Movement was; like it or not, that reality is indisputable. From varying perspectives, our entire culture experienced it, and was affected by it. Most of the many millions of us on college campuses during that time were forever changed -- for good, for ill, or both. This film presents the most coherent depiction I've seen of how this happened, what it's "logic" was - and manages to do so engagingly, without becoming pedantic. That's a whole lot for one film to do, even for someone who respects and loves film as our culture's greatest current art form.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look into Berkeley in the '60s, April 16, 2002
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As a student of American History, this is certainly one of the most interesting films I've had the opportunity to view. From the footage of Mario Savio's arrest at the Regents' forum to the interviews with former Black Panther leaders and also Vietnam draftees, there is a lot of raw human emotion and reaction captured on tape. Truly an excellent documentary that seeks to be more than a documentary-- and succeeds in becoming a true reflection of life.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time Favorites, February 28, 2000
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Eaglefeather (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
Berkeley in the Sixties is a well done documentary which does an excellent job of communicating the issues and events of one of the most pivotal decades of the twentieth century. Berkeley was the center of the social upheaval which defined the sixties and understanding what happened there helps us to understand the change and chaos which woke up America. Although a documentary, this video is amazingly easy to watch. While its appeal is no doubt greatest to those of us who were part of the events depicted, I think it would also interest anyone who would like to better understand what really happened during that time. It would be equally useful in an American history class or as an evening's entertainment. We have seen in several times in our home and it remains a favorite.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raises documentary standards..., May 31, 2008
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S. P. Cox (Christchurch , NZ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
This truly is an exceptionally well researched and presented documentary concerning the events at USC Berkeley in the 1960s.What comes across is that the collection of former students/activists interviewed are intelligent,erudite and committed to social causes:their social zeal did not die with the decade(as is revealed in the "where are they now" segment).However, the documentary is not a total celebration of their experiences;mistakes made and the success/impact of their actions is discussed,with a variety of conclusions being drawn.A small disappointment is the non-appearance of Mario Savio in the interviews:apparently he refused to participate and the documentary is poorer for this.The viewpoint of the "establishment"(university leaders,police,the conservative middle America)would have rounded the documentary out;but these are small quibbles.What remains is a superb piece of social history,with fantastic archival footage,both b/w and colour,accompanied by a soundtrack that complements the action nicely.I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the 1960s,social activism and the search for a better America.My review is dedicated to Michael Rossman,one of the FSM leaders who sadly passed away in May 2008:I applaud your efforts Michael.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice, March 18, 2004
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Alvi Krishna (Napa, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
I would like to tell you a little bit about the documentary by Mark Kitchell entitled Berkeley in the Sixties. This film is a great synopsis of the 60s civil rights and counter culture movements based out of UC Berkeley. The film was released in 1990 and contains interviews with everybody from members of the Black Panthers to Country Joe and the Fish. It starts at the beginning of the sixties with the events that would eventually lead to the first protest to the hippies and Peoples Park and so on, interviewing people even into the late 80s. The film kept my attention and was very educational.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars California Dreamin', September 2, 2008
This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
For those us of the Generation of '68 the political actions of the 1960's were essentially a youth-led effort. To the extent that anyone though about the situation as a separate political matter young students, mainly from the traditionally elite campuses, were the vanguard of those youth. And the vanguard of the vanguard? At least until 1969 a very strong case could be made, and is made in this documentary under review, that the University of California at Berkeley held that role. The whys and wherefores of that role are what makes this above-average documentary, complete with the inevitable `talking heads' that populate this kind of film, a very good source for what actually happened in the 1960's there for those who were around at the time and a primer on radical politics at the base of society for those who were not.

The disruption of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) meetings in San Francisco in 1960, various antiracial discrimination actions in support of the growing national civil right movement in the early 1960's, the historic and well-known Mario Salvo-led Free Speech Movement of 1964 along with its trials an tribulations, the early anti-Vietnam War and anti-draft actions of 1965 and 1966, the drift toward an apolitical counter-cultural experience in 1967, the romance with the next door neighbor Black Panthers and the Free Huey Movement in Oakland and ending with the militarily defeated People's Park efforts in 1969. They are all resurrected here. All these events are, moreover, discussed from various later viewpoints by participants, adversaries and flat out ill-wishers. If you want a two hour capsule commentary of the highs and lows of the political and counter-cultural struggles as they occurred at Berkeley and spread east this is a very good documentary to bring you up to speed.

Some of the rhetoric may seem odd to today's cyberspace-driven youth. Some of the costumes, especially during the height of the Haight -Ashbury era and the Summer of Love in 1967 may be perplexing to today's fashion conscious youth. Most of the politics may seem obscure. But know this- it may have not lasted long, we may have made every mistake in the political book, we certainly went off on more tangents that one could shake stick at but there was a fight going on then to change that nature of the way we do business in this society. Call us utopian, if you will, but we fought. A little of that spirit would come in very handy right about now. Many of the lessons of that time may be lost now. However, I sense a little of that same 1960's breeze starting to blow again in 2008 so look here.

I would not be a proper leftist politico if I did not mention that of all the scenes presented, all the discussions taped, all the `talking heads' giving their, seemingly sincere, takes on meaning of those times there was virtually no commentary on one very fundamental problem. Students, from elite universities or otherwise, cannot independently without joining up with some other social agency create the kind of just society that students were fighting for then. In no instant that I can recall during the course of this documentary did anyone attempt to draw the lesson that the working class, whatever its then current organization (or more correctly lack of it) and political consciousness came into play as a factor in history.

The closest anything came to understanding the need for an additional agency was the unequal, uncritical `alliance' with the Black Panthers. That is why, in the end, after the military defeat of the People's Park experiment Berkeley fell off the political map. But, my friends, the story did not end there for the 1960's. Some youth, although not nearly enough, drew that lesson about the lack of political power of students if left to their own devises and got serious about political theory and the working class. Some of us are still at that fight. From the later careers of the Berkeley interviewees described at the end of this film that did not include most of them. That tells the tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Those were the days., January 22, 2010
This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
This documentary, focuses on the turbulence of the Berkeley student demonstrations, during the volatile 60s. There's plenty of interviews, with former Berkeley student radicals. Also included, is commentary from members of the Black Panthers, the Berkeley Mayor, local police, and concerned Bay area citizens. Berkeley, and the San Francisco Bay area in general, were the epicenter of political and social unrest, for young people in the 60s. The chaos of the student movement that began at Berkeley, spread to other campuses throughout the nation. Never before, had college students in America been so thoroughly dedicated to positive change, as they were during the 60s.

I lived in the Bay area, just two years ago. And it's undergone a 280-degree turn from its enlightened, progressive character, that was its signature zeitgeist in the 60s. It's become positively inhumane! It's been overtaken by affluent Yuppie WASPs, who have driven the price of housing to astronomical levels. As a result, homelessness is at epidemic levels there. So is unemployment. Even the most highly educated people, have to beg for low-wage jobs there. Racism, and even gay-bashing, now plague the once warm and tolerant Bay area too. High tech geeks are the new gods of the Bay area, and everyone else there is regarded as useless. Bohemians of all stripes, are no longer welcome there. They can't afford to live there anymore, anyhow.

This film is very informative, about how Berkeley students fought valiant battles for social justice in the 60s. It's a real shame, that the Bay area has become a haven for the Capitalist pigs, that the Berkeley students railed against over 40 years ago.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good documentary chronicling the sixties student protest movement, January 10, 2010
This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
This documentary does a nice job of recounting some of the major events in the development of the student protest movements in Berkeley in the sixties. It is stronger on the early years and its highpoints than on the end of it and its ongoing influence, but nonetheless you get some great video footage. I wish there had been more analysis of how the student protest movement altered America and how it left the country a different place.

There are a host interviews with people actively involved in the protests. As a former philosophy grad student I was especially interested in those with John Searle, whose work I have read. Also Susan Griffin, who I have also read.

But apart from the interviews, I especially loved the vintage footage. There are great extended cuts covering many of the key events of the period. All in all, definitely a film worth seeing.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Historical Documentaries Should Aim to Be, December 8, 2007
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This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
This is the first and only review I have ever posted on the Internet.

I've chosen to write this review because, simply put, this is a tremendous documentary.

Forty-plus years removed from that tumultous decade, we've now carictured the 60s with classic images and trite phrases like "tumultous decade." This piece, however, puts into perspective how and why the organized activism started and evolved, how it merged with the hippie and drug culture, and how a student sit-in with a narrow, parochial purpose on a single college campus grew into national cutural and verbal upheaval.

I do not recall learning so much from a documentary. I could not more highly recommend this.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Show this to your family, and discuss it., August 18, 2008
By 
Amazon Customer (Hyattsville, MDUSA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Berkeley in the Sixties (DVD)
As I graduated from high school in 1970, I was at the latter part of the "student movement" days. In my late 30s, I married a woman who's one of eleven kids, none of whom ever "rebelled," or were part of that era. My spouse now regrets it, envies what I may have experienced. (And I still describe her siblings as "1950s consumers.")

I have a little of a cynical view toward the whole era. I think people often either romanticize it, "The world just changed so much," or they despise it. "The world would be a better place if those kids had learned to respect authority more." While I lean more toward the former, I think both are inaccurate.

The University of California, Berkeley is seen at the beginning of that "era." In fact, the film begins with a guy who was at Harvard. When he saw what was going on in Berkeley, where students were protesting HUAC, he decided to head west.

An interesting little observation: the demonstrators were singing "God Bless America." That's a sample of what one of those interviewed commented on in the film, that they believed so much in the American system, it's that on which they were so passionate.

One of the interviewees referred to it as a "political awakening" that was taking place then.

There was some name calling in those days, a remnant of the McCarthyite 50s. Someone called activist Mario Savio a communist. Well, to this day such absurdities occur, if you note that Barack Obama has been called that by some right wing zealots!

Some of those interviewed in this portion of the film admitted that it was some of the most privledged of Americans who were among the "radicals" of that era. I often point that out to many who make too much out of the era. Anyway, Clark Kerr, the university president, at this point was doing his best to undermine the student movements. After his presentation for a major meeting, Savio attempted a rebuttal and was arrested. If nothing else, I suggest Clark Kerr was a political failure!

Then, of course, the Vietnam war became the issue of the day. The students attempted to close the induction center in Oakland, CA. One day they were encountered by the police, and the next day but the police and the Hell's Angels!

I find here that I'm following my notes, but that gets dry. So I'll cover more highlights.

Reagan was an issue in the film twice. During the 1968 GOP convention he "pandered" to those who didn't have any understanding of what was going on at Berkeley. He used the Berkeley situation to cater to those most turned off to, in the final analysis, submission to authority.

Next, after a "People's Park" incident at UC Berkeley, he confronted the university administration, some of which had at least become more sympathetic with the student movements.

Suffice it to day, at neither time was I any more impressed with Reagan that I ever was.

One interesting dichotomy occurred in the film too. There were several distinctions made between the student movement and the counterculture, the center of which was not far from Berkeley, just across the bay. Most, including myself, usually see the two as the same. But at least one person interviewed said that the counterculture thought of the others as more "establishment." Those of the counterculture really wanted little to do with politics.

Another interesting element, related to the civil rights movement which gave much of the student movement its original impetus, was the Black Panthers. Bobby Seale was one of the founders of the Panthers, and one interviewed for the film. I've always been skeptical of the Panthers. While I've never opposed them, in some ways I found them to be more akin to the mob than activists. As it turned out, there were conflicts between them and the movement, with some cross over, especially of "revolutionary" idealism. In any case, at one point, one person interviewed said that the Panthers came out looking even crazier than they were as they used their more extreme elements for their media appeal. And that both attracted and scared the media and the police.

A real highlight of Berkeley's student movement--or "low"light, if you like, occurred after the establishment of a "People's Park" to which I already referred. It seemed to be a "fusion" point between the counterculture and the student movement. But one of those interviewed said it was "cynical" in a way in that it was set up to evoke a reaction and it did. It was closed, then the students tried to reopen it. Reagan called in the National Guard and they occupied the city for a month or so. At one point, students were allowed onto a portion of the campus, then the Guard wouldn't let them leave. Eventually helicopters flew in and gassed the area of campus with a nausea gas. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for some of those interviewed--and is something all of us should know more about especially if "the media" lean as left as some right wing zealots would have us believe.

All in all, it's a good film. As I said, I tend to be a little skeptical of some of the "movement." So I'm glad the film ended with a frame of each of those interviewed on what they're doing now. Some, on either side of the political spectrum, seem to think that 60s activists are all now insurace co. executives. All but one of those interviewed are still activists. So the "movement" really is something that affected them.

I wish I had space to say more. The film is inspiring, truly. It brings back to me memories of an era where idealism prevailed, not jingoism and consumerism by which we're obsessed today. Watch it, and see if you can inspire anyone else to "get involved" again!
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Berkeley in the Sixties
Berkeley in the Sixties by Mark Kitchell (DVD - 2002)
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