`Commissioned by Re:Voir in France in 2021 for a currently available DVD. — J.R.
Seen as a troubled diptych, Troublemakers (filmed in Newark during the fall of 1965, two years before the riots) and In the Country (1966) offer, respectively, public and private glimpses of the political frustrations faced by young white radicals in the United States during this volatile period. Robert Kramer–producer, writer, and director of the second film–receives no credit on the first, but he’s one of the more vocal radicals appearing in it, expressing some of the same disillusionment with mainstream, workaday politics that the second film is also wrestling with. The son of a Park Avenue heart specialist and a textile designer, Robert attended private schools, Swarthmore College, and Stanford, carrying around his privilege like an albatross, as a guilt-ridden handicap to overcome.
The implicit hope that led members of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) — including the very young Tom Hayden, Kramer, and filmmakers Norman Fruchter (sound) and Robert Machover (camera and editing) — to join and/or recruit the efforts of black activists in their Newark ghetto and the explicit bitterness of a nameless, fictional white radical couple (William Devane and Catherine Merrill) retreating to and brooding within their privileged rural isolation need to be viewed as reverse sides of the same countercultural coin. Read more