Two shows have dropped on Netflix in mid-October. They’re both about Liberté, about Revolution – whether political or cultural. But one is a sobering History lesson set in 1968 Chicago, while the second is Fantasy and the supernatural blended into actual Gallic History.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix USA) – I’m certain it’s no coincidence this this Aaron Sorkin historical/legal drama drops on Netflix with the US Presidential elections less than a month away. It’s a retelling of the trial of the Chicago 7; and it’s essentially about street protests and activism that stems from patriotism, but branded as anti-American and subversive by the Establishment. It was then Pres. Nixon declaring a legal war on the hippies, activists, and counterculture that disturbed the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago – and what parallels you’ll want to draw with Pres. Trump and his attitude towards Black Lives Matter and those who take to the streets, is a glaring one.
There’s a truly superb cast, with my personal standouts being Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin, and Mark Rylance taking on the role of defense lawyer William Kunstler. Frank Langella, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Michael Keaton are also in the standout cast. Sorkin wrote A Few Good Men, the recent Broadway adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird, and Social Network; and he proves to be a more than capable Director here with truly effective and illuminating editing. The film is a think piece, with great ensemble acting; and critics have singled out Sacha Baron Cohen as the most impressive, and possibly deserving an Oscar nomination. Quality film, and worth catching if you like riveting court dramas.
La Révolution (Netflix France) – A reworking of the French Revolution of the late 18th century, this Historical-Fantasy romp can either be seen as a gross simplification of this seminal historical event that has become a symbol of Fraternity & the Enlightenment, or as an energized, campy Gothic romp that really bears no true relation to History. If one takes the latter approach, then one can view and enjoy the 8-episode Limited series in much the same manner as one watches a film such as Lincoln Vampire Hunter. To ask for historical accuracy would be too tall an order, given what obviously is the intent of the Series’ creators.
The cast is made up of French actors and they won’t be readily identifiable to a Filipino audience. It all starts with the murder of 16-year old Rebecca, and the cover-up made to mask the sinister activities of blue-blooded aristocrats and Royals. I mention blue-blood, as beyond the popular expression used to describe the ruling class – in this series, it’s applied literally. Great visuals result from this, that along with nimbly choreographed fight scenes, and first class production values, make this series easy on the eye and entertaining. Just forget gaining any better understanding or historical perspective of why the French Revolution came to be. This is more like Le Miserables meets Twilight and The Walking Dead.