The Whole World’s Watching. An All-Star Cast in “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

Long before Trump there was the 1960’s and, specifically, 1968.

War, assassinations, riots, a Presidential election and the chaotic, violent Democratic convention in Chicago.

In its aftermath the Nixon Justice Department in 1969 charged a number of people with Federal criminal charges. It came to be known as the “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Netflix is bringing the events of 50 years ago to life with a Hollywood “A” list of characters to provide the “Black Lives Matter” generation with a trip down memory lane.

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There are few marriages of artist and repertoire that make more sense than Aaron Sorkin and the Chicago 7. With mouthpieces like the impishly radical Abbie Hoffman and the stately elder liberal Dave Dellinger primed to bite into Sorkin’s dialogue, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and its high water mark of late 1960s counter-culture political theater feels like something the writer-director has been working towards his entire career.

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The trial, which initially included eight defendants until Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale (who was actually bound and gagged in the courtroom during the proceedings) had his trial separated from the rest of the group, set out to determine if a collection of anti-war activists conspired to incite a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It quickly became a symbolic conflict between the longhairs (some metaphorical) and the straights.

On Sunday Netflix released the first teaser trailer of this Oscar-primed drama, with a focus on rhythmic editing and Sacha Baron Cohen looking scruffy.

Cohen seems perfect as Hoffman, and elsewhere in the cast is John Carroll Lynch as Dellinger, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby SealeEddie Redmayne as Tom HaydenJeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as prosecutor Richard Schultz, Frank Langella as Judge Julius (no relation to Abbie) Hoffman, Mark Rylance as William Kunstler, Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark, and on and on. Maybe someone will play Phil Ochs. Maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of Pigasus.

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It’s obvious why Sorkin and producer Steven Spielberg would want to release this now, during this election year and especially during this time of social upheaval,

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