DVD: One Bright Shining Moment

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George McGovern’s bold and grassroots presidential campaign of 1972 may have been the ultimate political defeat of the American Century, but also was perhaps its high watermark. Using a wealth of archival materials, interviews with prominent progressives like Gore Vidal, Gloria Steinem, Warren Beatty, Howard Zinn and featuring music from Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Donovan, and Elvis Costello, this portrait of an “honest, idealistic man driven by a sincere wish to help his country will make you weep for our current political state.” - IFC (Independent Film Channel)

• "I'm not very politically articulate so I usually shy away from expressing my views...but this is a documentary that profoundly stirred me . It's called 'One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern.' I often ponder how and why America has gotten to this point where we the people are so manipulated by and so disappointed in a government that was chiseled out and formed in the light of such great minds, which has functioned often so that glorious human change could become the new landscape of society.
This documentary shows a lot...on a Senator and would-be Presidential candidate like McGovern. He has it all, and the people who fought and protested and were killed because they shouted the truth had finally won the possibility of an extraordinarily just and sophisticated country – and why it was lost. .. It is important to understand, eve if you disagree, where our country switched to the track its on now, how precise were the defining moments. Everyone says we need a leader. Well, this guy was one, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., and, although [McGovern] wasn't shot, he was derailed – the people of this country were derailed – and the train went on...our times in many chilling ways mirror the times of McGovern – you'll see." – Sophie B. Hawkins (singer/songwriter)

• "When presidential candidate George McGovern took on incumbent Richard Nixon in 1972, no one really expected him to win – and he didn't. But in his bold, grassroots, seat-of-the-pants campaign, which energized young and progressive Americans to a degree never before seen, we find the genesis of today's powerful and sophisticated progressive movement.
Using a wealth of amazing archival materials, interviews with provocative figures including historian Howard Zinn and extensive interviews with McGovern himself, this "tremendously thouht-provoking tribute to the one man who could have dramatically and permanently alter America's political landscape for the better is essential viewing." – CBS Radio

• "The little-known and much-maligned 1972 campaign of South Dakota Senator George McGovern was, as this documentary points out, a high point in American politcs. Moreover, its ultimate failure was indicative of the problems in the electoral process as a whole. Highlighting the impossibility of success for an honest, idealistic candidate. The film is partly a biography of a truly remarkable politician, and partly a political essay, full of analysis and historical information. Unabashedly partisan, [filmmaker] Vittoria provides an alternative history of the events leading up to the election in which Nixon was running for his second term. The hugely eventful four-year period from 1968 to 1972 forms the crux of the film, with McGovern a galvanizing force in politics, using grassroots tactics to become a formidible opponent, despite his lack of funds. A staunch antiwar candidate, McGovern was vocal on many social issues, and demonstrated his willingness to stand up for his unpopular beliefs many times over in the Senate. The civil rights movement, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the student killings by the National Guard at Kent and Jackson State, and the police riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago summer '68 are all addressed with extensive archival footage and present-day commentary by an assortment of luminaries. Warren Beatty, Gloria Steinem, Dick Gregory and Gore Vidal are among those assembled to share their memories and experiences, and McGovern himself reflects without bitterness or regret.
Perched on the verge of success, however, McGovern made the fatal error that cost him the presidency and determined how history would remember him. In this film, drawing parallels between the Vietnam era and the Iraq war of the early 21st century, McGovern inevitably brings to mind candidates like Howard Dean who have also been accused of being too decent and not charismatic enough. It is the man's grace and the enduring strength of his idealism, that carry the film, which is narrated by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.
Also, check out George McGovern's 2006 book, "Out Of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now" (enter BK-OOI in the website's homepage search engine to go directly to the book)
George McGovern, the Democratic Party's nominee for president in 1972, served in the House of Representatives from 1957 to 1961 and in the Senate for eighteen years. He was the President of the Middle East Policy Council in Washington, D.C. for six years and the served as ambassador to the U.N. Agencies on Food and Agriculture in Rome under President Clinton. He holds the Distinguished Flying Cross for service as a bomber pilot in World War II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for humanitarian service.
He is co-author, along with William R. Polk, of the 2006 nonfiction bestseller, "Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now." This is a film to be seen by every progressive political activist when their worthy candidate is defeated by the next predatory shill for corporate interests. Or, even on that happy day when a genuine progressive actually will win against the forces of militarism, fear and status-quo. If that sounds too cynical, it's only because I've yet to see idealism and the common good defeat plutocracy and the politics of the big lie. Perhaps this film's ultimate message to this and future generations boils down to something Mohandas Gandhi said: "Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it." (later co-opted and reduced to a meaningless soundbite by sweatshop shoemaker Nike in its promotional "just do it" ad campaign.