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The Weather Underground (2002)

Lili Taylor , Pamela Z , Sam Green , Bill Siegel  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lili Taylor, Pamela Z, Jim Lange
  • Directors: Sam Green, Bill Siegel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001LYFKO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,412 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Weather Underground" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Original Weathermen audio communiques
  • Bonus film on former Weatherman David Gilbert: A Lifetime of Struggle
  • Excerpt from the Emile de Antonio film Underground
  • Filmmaker biographies
  • Filmmaker statement

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hello. I m going to read a declaration of a state of war...Within the next 14 days we will attack a symbol or institution of American injustice --Bernardine Dohrn

Thirty years ago, with these words, a group of young American radicals called The Weathermen announced their intention to overthrow the U.S. government. Fueled by outrage over the Vietnam War and racism in America, they went undergound during the 1970s, bombing targets across the country that they felt symbolized the real violence that the U.S. government and capitalist power were wreaking throughout the world. From pitched battles with police on Chicago s city streets, to bombing the U.S. Capitol building, to breaking acid-guru Timothy Leary out of prison, this carefully organized clandestine network attempted to incite a national revolution, while successfully evading one of the largest FBI manhunts in history.

One of the top documentaries of the year, this award-winning film interweaves extensive archival material with modern-day interviews to explore the incredible story of The Weather Underground. As former members reflect candidly about the idealistic passion that drove them to bring the war home, they paint a compelling portrait of troubled and revolutionary times, with unexpected and often striking connections to the current world situation.

Special Features:

Commentary From Former Weathermen Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers; Filmmaker Commentary; Original Weathermen Audio Communiques; Bonus Film on Former Weatherman David Gilbert: A Lifetime of Struggle; Excerpt from Emile de Antonio film Underground; Filmmaker Biographies; Filmmaker Statement; Spanish Subtitles; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

The key players in the radical movement known as the Weather Underground are skillfully brought to life in this Oscar-nominated documentary. The Weathermen were born of sixties protest, but took their scheme to overthrow the U.S. government to especially violent extremes. Never a well-populated movement, the Underground petered out as its leaders aged during the seventies; by decade's end, weary of hiding, most of them had turned themselves over to the authorities. That journey, by which a fire-breathing revolutionary such as Bernadine Dohrn became a (still fiery) gray-haired wife and mother, is an intriguing one. This film, rich in period footage (and some unnecessary sensationalism) captures the era somewhat broadly. But the present-day interviews with the participants, contrasted with their radical selves, provides an exceptionally detailed look inside the organization itself. It's not a nostalgic look back, and the overall mood is sobering rather than celebratory. Lili Taylor provides the narration. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful look at American 60s radicals June 13, 2004
In some ways, the group known as the Weather Underground (originally the Weathermen, an offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society) were more a symbol of 1960s radical idealism than a real revolutionary movement. Although they planted many bombs during a decade-long period, they never did anything that seriously threatened the government or power structure. Their goal, of course, was to spark a mass movement and inspire others to follow their example, but they remained essentially marginalized. The film, The Weather Underground does a good job at letting members of this group explain their motives and, in some cases, misgivings about their foray into revolution. Directors Bill Siegel and Sam Green seem to be sympathetic with the movement, and most of the material is told from the point of view of members. Leaders of the group Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers have retained their radical views and are anything but apologetic about their past actions.
Most members of the group, despite the bombings, were committed to not harming people. This brings up a rather blatant omission in the film -Kathy Boudin, perhaps the group's most notorious member (for her participation in a robbery where a man was killed) is not mentioned at all. This was an unfortunate decision, apparently done to portray the Weathermen as essentially nonviolent. To leave out such a well known chapter in the group's history leaves a gaping hole. Still, the parts that are included are fascinating and give a glimpse into the idealism and naivete of these leftist radicals.
In retrospect, it is (at least from one perspective) a little sad to see how little long term effect the 1960s counterculture had on society. It seems that they were no match for the propaganda machine of the government and mass media.
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52 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing October 23, 2004
At the end of the 1960's, the various student youth movements took a sharp turn toward the far left. Frustrated by their failures to halt America's involvement in the Vietnam War, a growing minority of student activist leaders whole-heartedly embraced Marxist dogma and began agitating for the overthrow of the United States government. There were a few niggling problems to attend to first, such as taking over the leadership of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which they accomplished at the 1968 SDS national convention. An interesting thing to remember about extremists regardless of their political leanings is worth mentioning at this point: radicals can't get along with one another. Views and positions take on the rigidity of absolute, immutable truth, and anyone who opposes those views is the enemy--even if they're on your side to begin with. Thus SDS almost immediately disintegrated into squabbling factions of increasing irrelevancy. The most notable group to arise from the ashes of SDS were the Weathermen, an extreme far left organization devoted to bringing about a Marxist revolution in the United States. The name of the group, as you probably know if you're reading this, came from a Bob Dylan song.

The Weathermen, later known as the Weather Underground after the members went into hiding, utterly failed to achieve any of their objectives. Their first big action occurred in Chicago when the group launched their own version of Kristalnacht, called "The Days of Rage." The Weathermen and their associates roamed through the streets of Chicago, breaking windows, fighting with cops, and generally making a huge nuisance of themselves.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The documentary Weather Underground is a fascinating look at the 1960s group that attempted to "bring the [Vietnam] War home" by committing bombings and other violent acts in the U.S. It is difficult to fathom why the WU genuinely believed it could overthrow the U.S. Government and replace it with a communist utopia. The film is thought provoking, but the filmmakers, unfortunately, chose not to discuss some of the worst behaviors of the WU's members.

The best part of WU, for me, was not the film's account of the WU's history; I've read several books on the group, so the history was already familiar.

What I found fascinating were the contemporary views of the former WU members. The former members have widely-differing views on whether the WU actions were justified. Some members defend the group's idealism, others concede that the WU violence was wrong. I think that it is fair to say that each former WU member still has some degree of angst about the group; none of the interviewees seems to be completely "at peace" with his or her participation in the group.

My main criticism of the film is that, while encouraging the viewer to think about SDS' actions, it does not mention many of the WU's most-shameful moments. For instance, the filmmakers fail to mention that:
a) Bernardine Dohrn lavishly praised Charles Manson and his followers for murdering "pigs" such as Sharon Tate. (Specifically, she said "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!").
b) Richard Elrod, an aide to Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley, was paralyzed by the injuries the WU's members inflicted on him during the WU's Days of Rage in Chicago in 1969.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars You Don't Need A Weather Man To Know Which Way The Wind Blows (thx...
Was there - that time/that place. Not in school at Berkley, but knew which way the wind blows. Didn't bomb anything - unfortunately. Did do anti-war marches. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kandy Langford
4.0 out of 5 stars The way the wind blows
"The Weather Underground" is a surprisingly non-sensationalist and non-judgemental documentary about the Weathermen or Weather Underground, a radical leftist group in the United... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ashtar Command
5.0 out of 5 stars A story long over due. Great Job!!!!
Very surprised no one had ever done documentary on this group until now. The film does not at all glorify them, the directors simply told a story of why these American college... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Gold Apex
3.0 out of 5 stars A well-presented left-wing screed
This is a funny film to review. To begin with, the protagonists are all 60s terrorists who are presented as sensitive seekers of truth, justice, and the American way. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jim Wasserman
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Became aware of the Weather Underground only recently (because of the movie "The Company You Keep"). This is a very informative documentary. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Sharla M. Saunders
1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't play
This video does not play all the way through, so waste of money.
Gives good overview of the criminal activities of the Weather Underground.
Published 17 months ago by S. Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Regardless of the WU being made of spoiled upper/middle class white...
I thought this film was rather insightful, regardless of your political opinion about the Left in America or the Weather Underground. Read more
Published on July 22, 2012 by Avid Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it from somebody who met him firsthand
During the 2008 election, the name Bill Ayers was thrown around by Sarah Palin and others as if he were the devil incarnate. Read more
Published on April 21, 2012 by Jeffery Mingo
4.0 out of 5 stars Weather Underground Synopsis
"Weather Underground" the Movie Released in 2003
A Documentary Film by Sam Green & Bill Siegel
Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature

How the... Read more
Published on October 28, 2011 by Tazz
2.0 out of 5 stars Gives the Microphone to Mostly Unrepentant Former Terrorists
I don't have a problem with doing a documentary about the Weather Underground. I don't have a problem with such a documentary featuring many interviews with former members of the... Read more
Published on July 16, 2011 by maskirovka
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