Politics, Civil Justice and the Law in Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7
With our 2020 elections right around the corner, the Aaron Sorkin written and directed piece of political cinema is right on time. Protests and politics seem to go hand in hand these days, but it is certainly nothing new. When American citizens are fed with the status quo we speak up and speak out even it means calling out our justice system and how our rights are flagrantly violated.
There was alot going on in 1968. We had troops in Vietnam. Richard Nixon became President and what was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and National Guard. Protest organizers, which included Abbie Hoffman (Sasha Baron Cohen, Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul Mateen) — were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and this trial that followed was notoriously historical.
What follows is this…
A mistrial is declared for Bobby Seale due to continuously denied legal representation leaving seven defendants remaining who were all sentenced and fined. In November 1972, The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overturns the convictions. The case is never retried.
Sorkin thrives in this lane, as we have witnessed from his many years as a show runner on Emmy-winning West Wing, where his rapid fire dialogue requires the best and brightest to make it flow with a realistic, urgent vibe. Sasha Baron Cohen breaks out of any stereotypical ideology that proceeds him in the role of Abbie Hoffman. His comedic sensibility serve him well in reenacting Hoffman’s courtroom antics and his commitment is full throttle making him one of the most compelling actors to watch. However, the star is recent Emmy winner Yahya Abdul Mateen as Black Panther Bobby Seale. His courtroom outburst speeches and confidence navigating in a system that consistently disrespects Black men will leave your jaw dropped to your crack for a variety of reasons.
Cohen lease a stellar cast that includes Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin, Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, Mark Rylance as William Kunster, John Carroll Lynch (David Dellinger), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Richard Schultz) and Frank Langella as the power crazy, irrational judge Julius Hoffman. Each one absolutely fantastic.
Production Designer Shane Valentino and Costume Designer Susan Lyall should be commended on bring late 60’s style to life with great detail and authenticity.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 will remind audiences all the reasons voting matters while placing those elected to serve from our judges to our President and should be streamed like yesterday…on Netflix.