The fate of two early 20th century activists casts shadow over today's political climate

Sacco And Vanzetti

on January 26, 2007 by Tim Cogshell
Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco were Italian immigrants whose experience of abject poverty and disenfranchisement in early ‘20s America led them to become anarchists in the struggle for decent wages and worker safety in the factories and sweatshops of the early industrializing city of Boston. In 1927 they were falsely accused of the robbery and murder of the paymaster and security guard of a local factory. Railroaded through a highly prejudicial justice system, they were condemned and sent to the gallows where they were ultimately hung.

Even at the time, this was a highly charged and controversial case with ramifications that reverberated throughout the culture. The story of Sacco and Vanzetti became insinuated into the art, poetry, songs, histories and anthologies of the day. There were myriad films and plays (including a highly acclaimed Italian teleplay in 2005) produced, and artists as noted as Woody Guthrie, Dorothy Parker, Upton Sinclair, Joan Baez and Diego Rivera paid homage in prose, song and strikingly powerful paintings. All of this is chronicled in the documentary film Sacco and Vanzetti, whose actual letters are read by the actors John Turturro and Tony Shalhoub, with great poignancy and even greater urgency.

Given the circumstances of the present day, when dissention is oft equated with disloyalty and suspicion accrues to the foreigner often because of their foreignness; when people (often Americans) are held incognito without the very rights denied these two men so many years ago; when expedient execution is the vogue — well, let's just say the story of Sacco and Vanzetti is a timely reminder of how things can go when politics obscure reasonable minds, and vigilance gives way vigilantism. Distributor: First Run
Voices: Tony Shalhoub and John Turturro
Director: Peter Miller
Producers: Peter Miller and Amy Carey Linton
Genre: Documentary
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 82 min.
Release date: January 21, 2007 Bos, March 30 NY, April 6 LA

Tags: Tony Shalhoub, John Turturro, Peter Miller, Amy Carey Linton, Documentary, disloyalty, suspicion, foreigner, culture

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