Un(der)seen Cinema: Underground

Shot on May 1st 1975, while the Weather Underground was still in hiding, and released in 1976, after what would be their last bombing, this documentary could not show its subjects’ faces. The filmmakers (director Emile De Antonio and cameraman Haskell Wexler) had to shoot them through a screen, and later, depict the back of their heads through a mirror. With this technique, only the filmmakers’ faces are visible. It is a strange and oddly compelling interview technique, which is a shame when contrasted with the sometimes banal and vanguardist comments of the WUO.

Even still, the filmmakers had to burn many of the negatives, which revealed too much information about the WUO. Immediately after its release, the film and its negatives were subpoenaed by the FBI.

A fascinating document of failed armed struggle, featuring excellent sound montage and rare footage of sixties revolutionary leaders. Underground is total candy for anyone interested in the excesses and possibilities of America’s last sustained rebellion.