1969; Black & White; 40 minutes
Directed by Yves de Laurot
Walter Cronkite, Columbia, Columbian,
Turn Ons & Put Ons & Right
Ons & HardOns;
Nowadays, the 60's are being viewed either through nostalgia's rosy glass or with personal mid-life bitterness. Both are dishonest and politically useless. Listen, America! was made at the height of the 60's. From within its own era, the film has the wisdom and foresight to reveal the inherent weaknesses of the period, and to predict the ultimate downfall of The Movement. Nonetheless, the film values the liberatory aspects of the 60's and presents its analysis from a compassionate, unconventional, even humorous perspective. Despite its creative and personal style, the film never strays from its own political seriousness, analyzing the 60's in the tone of a devastatingly honest self-critique. Other avenues of struggle are proposed, as roads to real change and self-realization at once.
Listen, America! documents the personalities and texture of the 60's from this unique perspective of foreknowledge. A tapestry of mass riots and individual confessions, naked body-painted orgies and militant Underground organizing makes Listen, America! a singular evocation of its time. Exuberant in the shadow of what is to come, the film shares a poignant complicity with its contemporary audience.
Today, people wonder, "What happened?" Listen, America! answered before anyone thought to ask. The filmmakers felt the coming of the big chill and sensed the change in the weather while others were still high on the times. The film prophesies the yuppiedom and apathy of today, and yet does not give up hope. It tells us that there is still something we can do.
Listen, America! was a warning in its own time, and a testament for those who would come next.
It is we who must now listen.
Zoë Lund, 1997