February 26, 2010

Now on DVD: The People Speak

Watching The People Speak, a performance documentary based on the writings of the late historian Howard Zinn (he passed away almost exactly a month ago), is a little like the experience Marty McFly has in Back to the Future II when he goes back to the alterna-1985.

Listening to the diary entries and recorded quotes of several dozen American citizens (vividly brought to life by a talented cast of A-list Hollywood actors) describe the reality of the country around them, you can't help but consider how many different histories this country has (and really every country has). The history you learn from a textbook, the history you learn from your family, and of the course the history you don't hear at all. This is the American history you haven't heard.

Or maybe you have, if you've read Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" or "Voices of a People's History". If that's the case you won't really have your hair blown back by anything here except the impassioned readings from David Strathairn, Viggo Mortensen, Kerry Washington, Marisa Tomei, and others. If this is your first experience of the "people's history", however, you may find yourself disturbed, outraged, encouraged and confused.

The moments in between the readings are narrated by Zinn, and a handful of American singers, from Pink to Bob Dylan, provide musical interludes as well, with Pink's rendition of "Dear Mr. President" being both the most surprising and most devastating of the bunch (at least of those performed - Lupe Fiasco's "American Terrorist" is only found on the film's soundtrack but it was one of the best songs of last decade). 

The People Speak was filmed at the Cutler Majesty Theatre in Boston and produced by A & E Home Entertainment. Check out the trailer below and buy The People Speak on DVD.

And congrats to "The Mad Hatter" of Toronto, Ontario - winner of a free copy of The People Speak (courtesy A & E Home Entertainment)!


  1. visit and read here.. nice post,, greetings from Indonesia..

  2. Thanks for stopping by sijagur and warm greetings to you; if you're interested in a different view of U.S. history maybe give this film a look.


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