The Weather Underground

Robert Venturi looked upon the Campidoglio and said all modern architecture was false. At around the same time, the LIFE Science Library published a volume called The Mind, in which a clinical diagnosis was made of Van Gogh’s Impressionist paintings as schizophrenic. Also, Martin Esslin in The Theater of the Absurd tried to equate his own bad readings with the actual work of living playwrights. Later, there was The Painted Word.

These events in the early Sixties and later argue a cultural superstitiousness and immaturity that helped to form a climate of rash, irresponsible acts such as those of the Weather Underground. The filmmakers offer a clear view of the subject in contemporary footage and recent interviews. No effort has been spared to let the people and events speak for themselves. What you have is a set of toy Bolsheviks issuing fantastic communiqués and blowing up empty offices. The boys are pensive now and rueful, but the girls are ready for action still (as Beckett says, “The horse leech’s daughter is a closed system. Her quantum of wantum cannot vary.”). The sins of their youth are forgiven, but without a sense of humor how can you enjoy this priceless documentary?

Pinter has a poem on them twenty years before their first appearance: “My childhood vampire unpacks a new stay, / But I defy and send him off to war, / On the credit of Leo and his gods, / Against the fallingdown parents / Devoured by children, and the toy Czars.”