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 Chicago.
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 dismissed.
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.