“The Trial of the Chicago 7” Movie Review

Emma Miller, Staff Writer

The Trial of the Chicago 7, a drama film released to Netflix on October 16, 2020, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin is absolutely deserving of every single award it is nominated for. This movie is an outstanding representation of the historical events that took place in Chicago 1969. 

In the beginning of the film, seven revolutionaries, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale, are on trial by the federal government for conspiracy and crossing state lines with intent to incite a riot, arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Though Bobby Seale has somehow been roped into this trial, having no contact or relation to any of the other defendants. Seale had only been in Chicago for four hours just to give a speech.  It is noted very early on that the judge is not on their side, after numerous objections and rulings are made on absolutely no legal basis. 

As the movie continues, we begin to piece together all of the events that have led to the trial. Countless eye-witnesses take the stand to share their side of this incredibly controversial topic, with several, especially those chosen by the defense having their testimony be thrown out for a variety of unsupported reasons. The defendants are made aware that this fight will not be easy, but giving in is certainly not an option. 

Eventually however, the judge comes a little closer to his senses, and allows a mistrial for Bobby Seale in order to separate him from the other defendants. This is only after one of the main affiliates Seale has in Chicago, a member of The Black Panthers, is “murdered.” Fred Hampton dies under unspecified circumstances, which only further magnifies the controversies of this trial.

Before the verdict is decided, the defendants are asked to give a statement that may influence the judge during sentencing.  One defendant, Tom Hayden, is asked to represent the defense. He proceeds to read every name of the soldiers who have died in the Vietnam War since the beginning of the trial. This action incites an immense reaction and uproar from the crowd, and even influences the jury. In the end, all seven revolutionaries are acquitted of all conspiracy charges.