‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’: A thrilling retelling of one of America’s most notorious trials


Photo Courtesy of Nico Tavernise and Netflix

Joseph Ferrer, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Vietnam War infamously brought great turmoil and created one of the greatest divisions America had ever seen. “The Trial of the Chicago 7, directed by Aaron Sorkin, depicts the story of one of the most notorious trials in American history during this time period. Utilizing an all-star cast and a gripping script, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” leaves a lasting impression as an incredibly engaging historical drama.  


The film covers the trial of the Chicago 7, a group of anti-Vietnam War protestors charged with conspiracy for intending to incite violent riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Illinois. Sorkin is no stranger to movies of this type with his previous work on films such as “A Few Good Men” and his experience shows with this film as well. Each cast member, from the witty and sarcastic Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) to the more calculated Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), uniquely and strongly portrays the real-life people they represent both in their appearance and in their mannerisms. The strong script enhances serious moments of the film with engaging dialogue while also allowing for more lighthearted, humorous character interactions in between. 


Throughout the film, real footage of the protests and riots are spliced in with the acted  segments, further emphasizing the gravity and historical weight of the situation. The film’s soundtrack is also used sparingly with its mix of 70s hard rock and orchestral strings bringing out emotion during tense moments. The pacing of the film is also excellent with the movie never dragging on one scene for more than necessary.  


“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is not trying to be a documentary but rather a dramatic retelling of what transpired during the actual court case. As with most films of this nature, the plot is not 100% accurate to the historical source material. Some characters in the film don’t exist in real life and some events are exaggerated or happen out of order. However, these changes were made to drive the overarching narrative of the film and better suit the progression of characters for a film setting. None of the changes drastically conflict with the actual historical accounts of the trial either, and a surprising amount of outlandish moments in the film actually did take place in real life.  


The film not only offers a great amount of commentary on the state of America during the Vietnam War but also highlights a significant comparison to the current state of our country today. The film doesn’t just talk about one issue, whether it be the conflict between law enforcement and citizens or the racial discrimination from government authorities within the court of law. Ultimately, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” serves as an intriguing and timely look back at American history that also highlights issues occurring within our country today.