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Brandon Judell

One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern
One Bright Shining Moment

If the seventies, Nixon, Vietnam, the Chicago Seven, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert MacNamara, L.B.J, Bella Abzug and Spiro Agnew still resonate for you with some meaning, One Bright Shining Moment will help you relive your youth when politics were still tinged with hope, and you still felt that you could make a change.

Now if you were born in the seventies or later, and you are sick of the war in Iraq; the government’s malfunctioning in New Orleans and Mississippi; the realpolitik policies of our nation’s leaders; homophobia, racism, and George W. Bush in general, this documentary will open your eyes to the fact that history repeats itself ad nauseam.

Yes, director Stephen Vittoria’s eye-opening opus, whether intentionally or not, clearly presents the parallels between Richard Nixon and George W., and these correlations are quite nightmarish.

The hero here, though, George McGovern, Nixon’s failed nemesis, does leave Al Gore and John Kerry a bit wanting. McGovern was a vital, valiant politician, who fought against racism and the Vietnam War, was head of John F. Kennedy’s Food for Peace program, and who helped make the Democratic Party an inclusive one that championed the rights of women, minorities, and gays.

Just read some of his quotes:

“I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”

“The Establishment center... has led us into the stupidest and cruelest war in all history. That war is a moral and political disaster - a terrible cancer eating away at the soul of our nation.”

"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain"

“You know, sometimes, when they say you're ahead of your time, it's just a polite way of saying you have a real bad sense of timing.”

The ill-timed McGovern, as we all know, lost the election in a landslide, winning just one state.

But what was the effect of McGovern on American politics? Did he destroy the Democratic Party forever? Did he bring new ideas to center stage that are still flourishing? Or was the residue of his short stay in our public consciousness just a negligible footmark?

Interviewing the likes of Gore Vidal, Gloria Steinem, Warren Beatty, Dick Gregory, and Gary Hart, Vittoria makes it clear that for many, having experienced the McGovern magic was an everlastingly important part of their lives; it was a moment that helped shaped their future paths. And quite possibly, it was a moment that can now be recalled and put into good use for the next election.

Clearly, One Bright Shining Moment, besides being a vivifying, entertaining documentary, it is a tool that can educate our young, and hopefully cure the “terrible cancer eating away at the soul of our nation.”

Director/writer/producer: Stephen Vittoria
Editor: Jeff Sterling
Cast: George McGovern, Gore Vidal, Gloria Steinem, Warren Beatty, Howard Zinn, Harvey Kornberg, Chip Berlet
Narration: Amy Goodman

Copyright © Brandon Judell 2005
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