Trial of the Chicago 7
left everyone in shock and horror. Thoughts about Bobby Seale crossed our minds
as we wanted to know if he was really bound and gagged in court. We wondered if
the anti-war activist dressed up in police uniforms. Honestly, there are
several instances in the movie that are supremely explosive, begging us to
think of them as fictitious.
The new movie is about 1969 Chicago Seven trial – eight anti-Vietnam activists who were accused of
have conspired against the government at the Democratic National Convention in
If you’re not new to
the Aaron Sorkin world, you must know that he is known for directing movies
that stage intense confrontations between characters, like The Social Network
and The West Wing. He has again picked up an event of the past that is perfect
for his niche – a courtroom drama. The movie had an unreasonable and racist
judge dealing with eight angry and unabashed defendants. This 130-minute film
had all the juice and spice that you’d want from a movie of this genre.
However, the actual event was even more dramatic and horrendous than the movie.
Source: Film School Rejects
Following are some of the craziest aspects and character guide of the trial that didn’t make it
into Sorkin’s script:
Now you must be
wondering what else is left to see? Wasn’t he incompetent enough in the movie?
The 74-year-old judge already had a reputation of being cranky and impetuous
before he was placed for this case. In the film, you saw him being completely
biased towards the US government. He did everything in his power to not only
alienate but also dehumanize the defense.
Do you know that, on
the first day of the trial, he had issued arrest warrants for four defense
attorneys? The matter came under control only after the legal community collectively
raised concerns. Although the premise of the film was exactly the way the
actual trial went, Sorkin added a few new beats to enhance the characterization
of the eight defendants.
Source: Time Magazine
During the trial,
Julius Hoffman stopped the defendants from showing evidence to the jury. This
evidence was critical and couldn’t establish them as innocent. But this isn’t
even the most ridiculous aspect of the trial; the judge kept on referring to
William Kunstler with the wrong name. He charged Abbie Hoffman with seven more
days in jail for simply laughing in court.
Here’s a little trivia:
The judge assigned an astounding 175 counts of contempt!
The actual problem with
the judge was that he was an out-an-out racist – something that became obvious
when he dealt with Bobby Seale. Seale was the co-founder of Black Panther, and
he was an anti-war activist. However, he had little to no connection with the
rest of the defendants.
First of all, Hoffman
refused to let Bobby Seale get a lawyer of his choice. Then he ripped him off
of every other constitutional right. At one point, Seale lost his cool and told
the judge that he was a “rotten racist
pug racist list.”
Soon thereafter, Seale
was forced out of the courtroom by a dozen marshals and when he returned he was
gagged and bound. Tom Hayden recalls that “His eyes and the veins in his neck and temples were bulging with the
strain of maintaining his breath. As shocking as the chains and gag were, even
more unbelievable was the attempt to return the courtroom for normalcy.”
In the movie, it is
shown that Schultz had immediately called out Hoffman. In reality, Seale stayed
bound and gagged in court for three days. At one point, Kunstler calls him out
for discrimination to which Hoffman responds “I lived a long time and you are the first person who has ever suggested
that I have discriminated against a Black man.” Eventually, his trail was
Sacha Baron Cohen gave
his career-best performance as the memorable Abbie Hoffman. Abbie Hoffman, the
co-founder of the Youth International Party, was an eccentric character. But
what if we tell you that most of his crazy antics didn’t even make it to the
movie? For example, at one point, he told the judge that he would have to cut
out his tongue to be quiet. Will you believe us if we tell you that he did a
headstand on the defense table?
Source: The Guardian
His life after the
trial wasn’t less eventful either. He continued with his left-wing activism
until 1973, after which he was arrested for selling
cocaine. He served one year in jail for this, altered his appearance with
plastic surgery to live under a long list of pseudonyms. He returned to public
activism in 1980 and committed suicide in 1989.
Abbie Hoffman’s partner
and co-founder of Yippies was shown in the movie as an amiable junkie. Jerry
Rubin once referred to the trial as the Academy Award of protest. His character
wasn’t as simple as it was shown in the movie. Like, the movie suggested that
Rubin bought a drink from an undercover agent. In reality, he was being trailed
by the undercover police officer who even testified at the trial.
Also, the movie shows
that Rubin got caught while protecting a woman from getting sexually harassed.
He was actually caught when he and his friend were looking for restaurants to
eat dinner. Jack Mabley was present at the site at the time and he recalled his
arrest as disturbing.
Throughout the film,
the tension between Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden was obvious. Both of the
characters had a different view on how to deal with the trial. While Hoffman
thought of it as a cultural movement, Hayden had a different point of view. At
one point, he called out Hoffman as a lost, disrespectful, foulmouthed, and
lawless loser. This wasn’t the dynamic between the two. However, the judge did
view the two differently. He believed that Hayden would fit the establishment
just fine. He was, of course, unaware of the anger that burned inside Hayden
against the government – a fire that came to life during his speeches.