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Commentaries on this disc:
Writer/director/cinematographer Haskell Wexler, editorial consultant Paul Golding, and actor Marianna Hill
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Reviewed by iwantmytvm on October 3rd, 2020
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Fresh off a screening of the film, Wexler, Golding, and Hill provide a conversational and informative track. They recall the historical context of the film, the civil rights movement for women and minorities, politics of the time, Vietnam, the assassination of MLK and RFK. Wexler wrote the script months before the Chicago rights happened and shares that he had been hearing rumblings. They wanted to demonstrate the surreal blurred lines of reality and media. Freedom of speech as an issue was a constant theme in the film. They believe that the x-rating the film was given was due to poltical censorship.
Hill shares some thoughts about her scenes working with Robert Forster and Wexler as a director, but is also complimentary of other scenes.
Wexler and Golding reveal some cuts and trims that were made to the film. Wexler talks about his own camera work and some of the tricks they used to achieve certain shots, in a time before steadicams. They note that the use of music in the forefront as part of a message in the story was unusual for the time. Medium Cool was an example of cinema verite, with many non-actors, and the intensity of performances made the written lines seem authentic and powerful as though they were improvised. Thanks to well-placed contacts, they could film in dangerous neighborhoods. The elements with pigeons were a remnant from an urban nature film, Concrete Wilderness, that Wexler never made. They speak to the risks involved in filming during the actual 1968 riots.
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