The War at Home

The thing that hath been it is that which shall be, and there is no new thing under the sun.

There’s been a cycle in recent years of documentaries about the social-justice movements of the late 1960s and early ’70s, including The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, and I Am Not Your Negro. For better or worse, those movements existed in the shadow of the 800-pound gorilla that was the antiwar movement, and from the same people who restored the 1982 documentary The Atomic Café comes a 4K restoration of Glenn Silber and Barry Alexander Brown’s 1979 documentary The War at Home. (Worth noting is the fact that The War at Home’s co-director Barry Alexander Brown would go on to edit over a dozen Spike Lee joints, including Do the Right Thing, The 25th Hour, and BlacKkKlansman.)

Focusing on the events in the city of Madison, Wis., from 1963 through 1973, what’s striking is how much hasn’t changed: Protestors are dismissed by the Establishment as “angry, vicious mobs” led by “professionals,” Nixon’s 1968 election is described as one of the most depressing nights ever, and white people utterly lose their shit when their racism is pointed out. That history repeats itself so often in our rabidly anti-intellectual country is unsurprising but no less troubling, for it means our war may never end.

Not rated. Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.


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