1971 (2014)

This is a great little documentary about a little-known incident in 1971 when a group of student activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, stole files and leaked them to national newspapers. Depending on who you listen to, this may have been a very influential event indeed, even beginning the process of unravelling the corrupt Depression generation’s grip on power in the USA. Whether it was or not, this charming and highly watchable movie is a fascinating window into a very different time. A pretty odd and surprisingly dark time of entrenched culture clash and generational warfare where you were either a hairy baby boomer or not. A time when seemingly normal human beings believed they were in a state of siege from an oppressive and tyrannical police state. And, as demonstrated by the files recovered, those fears had some basis in reality. The leaked files exposed to a shocked nation that the FBI were engaging in illegal activities and surveillance against law-abiding citizens.

It’s a superbly well-made film – a class act, and amongst other things assembles some phenomenal footage from the era of a world that had one foot in the fifties and one in the eighties. A shambolic society beaten down and directionless from the strain of social division, in particular from the Vietnam war. This break-in was not only indicative of its time but also perhaps the beginning of the end for the cynical old guard and the final nail in the coffin for the career of FBI head snooper J. Edgar Hoover.

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