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Sacco and Vanzetti
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The ordeal of Sacco and Vanzetti came to symbolize the bigotry and intolerance directed at immigrants and dissenters in America. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world protested on their behalf, and today, the story continues to have great resonance, as civil liberties and the rights of immigrants are again under attack.
Actors John Turturro and Tony Shalhoub read the powerful prison writings of Sacco and Vanzetti, and a chorus of passionate commentators also propel the narrative, including Howard Zinn, Arlo Guthrie, Studs Terkel, as well as several people with personal connections to the story.
The Sacco and Vanzetti story has attracted some extraordinary artists over the years, including Ben Shahn, Woody Guthrie, Dorothy Parker, Upton Sinclair, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Joan Baez, and Diego Rivera, among others. Artwork, music, poetry, and feature film clips about the case are interwoven with the narrative.
A timely reminder of how things can go when politics obscure reasonable minds. --Boxoffice.com
Superb! A concise yet passionate history lesson whose relevance could not be timelier. --Variety
Top Customer Reviews
Whatever your political leanings or views on illegal immigration may be this movie is a fascinating study of what happened to these two men. I suggest that you take the time to view and make up your own mind as to whether these men were guilty, or merely convenient scapegoats.
Many historians are present and much of the trials' testimonies have been documented. Throw in some modern ballistics experts, letters by the defendants, and interviews with living relatives of key people, and you have a rich and condensed viewing experience. They even have artists testify to the powerful inspiration of Sacco and Vanzetti with repercussions in painting, literature, film, and movies. Some of the film has clips from Guiliano Montaldo's 1971 movie of the men as well as other performances, including a passionate invocation by Henry Fonda.
A smooth and detailed sense of history pervades the documentary. When narrating their upbringing in Italy, they bring footage of their childhood neighborhoods. Even Nicola Sacco's niece is interviewed in Italy with subtitles translated into English. Historians like David Kaiser do a skillful job of piecing together the steps that led to their arrest and subsequent executions.Read more ›
Those familiar with the radical movement know that at least once in every generation a political criminal case comes up that defines that era. One thinks of the Haymarket Martyrs in the 19th century, the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930's, the Rosenburgs in the post-World War II Cold War period and today Mumia Abu-Jamal. In America after World War I when the Attorney General Palmer-driven `red scare' brought the federal government's vendetta against foreigners, immigrants and militant labor fighters to a white heat that generation's case was probably the most famous of them all, Sacco and Vanzetti. The exposure of the tensions within American society that came to the surface as a result of that case is the subject of the film under review.
Using documentary footage, reenactment and `talking head' commentary by interested historians, including the well-known author of popular America histories Howard Zinn, the director Peter Miller and his associates bring this case alive for a new generation to examine. In the year 2007 one of the important lessons for leftists to be taken from the case is the question of the most effective way to defend such working class cases. I will address that question further below but here I wish to point out that the one major shortcoming of this film is a lack of discussion on that issue. I might add that this is no mere academic issue as the controversy over the strategic call for retrial or freedom in the current case of the death-row prisoner, militant journalist Mumia-Abu-Jamal, graphically illustrates. Notwithstanding that objection this documentary is a very satisfactory visual presentation of the case for those not familiar with it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty - even fellow Communist Upton Sinclair admitted in his own personal writings that their own defense lawyer admitted their guilt. Read morePublished 3 months ago by R. K. Baluch
It is obvious these men were railroaded by a bigoted nation. That bigotry continues to this day. Though they were radicals pressing for social change the same reality exists today,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by rocks911
Excellent documentary of the event and time that it occurred. Good research with current family member (1970's) of the major figures. Well balanced.Published 4 months ago by World Traveler
Very old event, documentary and has little value beyond reviewing ethnic bigotryPublished 4 months ago by John Stribling
Amazing how the Italians were thought about then. thats guilty because of nationaltyPublished 5 months ago by Robert Santorelli
A bunch of lies, created by Willi Munzenberg and spread by communist sympathizers. Taking two convicted murderers and making them victims of political persecutions.Published 7 months ago by Gee Smart
There are so may problems with this film it’s hard to know where to begin.
Guilt or Innocence
Let’s start with whether Sacco and Vanzetti were in fact guilty. Read more