“I’ve been asked in the run-up to the film, after the film came out, if the script changed at all to mirror events,” The Trial of the Chicago 7 director-writer tells us today on Crew Call about the pic coinciding with modern day political headlines, “The answer is ‘No’. Events changed to mirror the script.”
While Sorkin, off of an initial assignment from Steven Spielberg, worked on the script for 14 years, what recently fast-tracked the pic into production was as the Oscar-winning The Social Network scribe says “Donald Trump came into our lives. And here’s where things suddenly became relevant. That he would have rallies, and there would be a protestor He would get nostalgic about the old days ‘when we use to carry that guy outta here on a stretcher’ and ‘I’d like to punch him right in the face and beat the crap out of him’. The the country was suddenly very polarized. Protest was demonized. We thought the film was very relevant when we were making it last winter. We didn’t need it to get more relevant. but it did. Obviously in May, when George Floyd was killed, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the protests in the streets — those protests were met by tear gas and night sticks. (My editor) Alan (Baumgarten) and I thought, watching the CNN coverage of the protests, if we took footage degraded the color a little bit, it would look exactly like the footage we were using from 1968. All of this was before Jan. 6 when Donald Trump did exactly what the Chicago 7 were wrongfully accused of doing.”
We talk with Sorkin today about realizing the Netflix movie about protesters Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, et. al during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the torturous trial they faced overseen by Judge Julius Hoffman, and how the filmmaker assembled a sprawling story with his Molly’s Game editor Alan Baumgarten (who received an Oscar nom for his editing work on 2013’s American Hustle).
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is currently streaming on Netflix.
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