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The Tally Ho

Friday, October 08, 2004

Going up River by George Butler

Director George Butler's film Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry opened in select theaters last Friday, 1 October 2004. However, within the last few days has decided to let it be downloaded for free here, Kerrymovie.com.

The film traces Kerry's early life as a young man who chooses to enlist in the Navy and to go to Vietnam. The film reveals intimate, first person accounts of Kerry's war service through his own private letters, his eloquent journal, and the vivid memories of the men who served at his side. When Kerry came home disillusioned by the war, he and his fellow Vietnam Veterans challenged Congress and the Nixon administration. As Kerry became a nationally known anti-war activist, the Nixon White House plotted to discredit his leadership, but significantly could find "nothing on him," as Colson reveals via Watergate tapes. Despite Nixon's attempt to undermine John Kerry's political career during his 1972 unsuccessful run for US Congress, Kerry persevered, eventually winning election to the Senate and receiving the Democratic nomination for president in 2004.

Going Upriver director George Butler (best known for his highly acclaimed films Pumping Iron, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition) first realized Kerry's importance to his generation and began documenting his journey in photographs in 1969, covering Kerry's leadership of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), his early political campaigns, as well as intimate moments of his personal life. The film weaves together Butler's extraordinary photographs with archival film, interviews with Kerry's closest associates, and more contemporary images of the Senator at home and abroad.

As a Vietnam War hero and anti-war activist, Kerry's story is at the center of a defining era in American history. More than a biography of John Kerry, Going Upriver is the story of an American generation that came of age in the tumultuous sixties and that has now come to national leadership at the beginning of a new century -- when issues of war and morality once again hold center stage.

I think that it is a fair assuption that most people don't really know the story of Mr. Kerry unless they have followed it through the Boston Globe, have read the biography Douglas Brinkley (and articles in the Atlantic and elsewhere), or remember the Nixon years. Otherwise it is probably from the campaign, the convention, and the talking heads. It is easy, and probably most peoples first reaction to mock or dismiss today, but this documentary is free and has been given very good reviews. Not to mention that I hear it is good for making Mr. Kerry more acceptable to those conservative relatives that are uneasy about the direction of the United States under Mr. Bush.


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