1971 evokes era’s turbulent political climate

1971

Where: Vic Theatre

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When: Tonight, 8:45 p.m.

Rating: 3/5 stars


On March 9, 1971, long before tweeting became something other than what birds do and Watergate spawned All the President’s Men, an earnest group of anti-war radicals broke into an FBI office in a Pennsylvania town ironically named Media, stole classified files detailing illegal surveillance practices and leaked them to newspapers. That director Johanna Hamilton’s flashback surfaces in the shadow of Citizen Four, the documentary recounting Edward Snowden’s groundwork before he blew the whistle on the National Security Agency’s spying techniques, adds a chilling layer of resonance to this historic example of Vietnam-era civil disobedience. Hamilton takes a straightforward approach in revealing such heinous practices on J. Edgar Hoover’s watch, effectively intercutting archival footage and interviews with historians, aging broadcasters and whistleblowers with dramatizations of the political heist shrewdly pulled off the night many Americans would be distracted by the historic Ali/Frazier fight.

While the re-enactments seem hokey at times, despite the authentic period costumes and hairstyles, Hamilton nevertheless skilfully evokes the era’s turbulent political and social climate, with genuine suspense generated during the heist matched by unexpected humour.

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