History repeats itself.
The axiom comes across with powerful resonance while watching the first teaser trailer for The Trial of the Chicago 7, writer/director Aaron Sorkin‘s dramatization of the court case against counter-culture anti-war protestors led by Abbie Hoffman during the 1968 Democratic Convention.
The violence of the events saw protestors clash with police and military officers, and one can’t help but instantly think of this summer’s response in major U.S. cities to the killing of George Floyd, not to mention the broader Black Lives Matter protests that has followed.
In 1968, Hoffman (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) and six other protestors were charged by the federal government for conspiracy and inciting a riot. Sorkin’s film looks to re-enact those protests as a part of an overall depiction of their fallout and the trial that followed.
Sorkin’s storytelling brand is Intellectual Entertainment, marked by riveting dialogue and pointed, thought-provoking one-liners; the Abbie Hoffman quote that caps the end of this trailer sounds like classic Sorkin, so much so that I’d be surprised if it was a verbatim grab from the trial transcript.
Sometimes Sorkin overindulges and goes off-the-rails in his soapboxing (re: his HBO series The Newsroom) but, at its best, Sorkin’s singular voice makes us consider (and confront) our societal values and American soul (re: The West Wing, The Social Network, Moneyball).
Along with Cohen, the cast is led by Academy Award winning actors Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) and also includes Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and many more.
Produced by Paramount Pictures before being sold off to Netflix in a post-pandemic liquidation, The Trial of the Chicago 7 opens in select theaters later this September before debuting on Netflix October 16, 2020.