A glimpse into a brilliant man
Mark Vaniman | New York | 03/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film at the Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival. The theatre was sold out and we were lucky enough to have a Q and A with the director. With a miniscule budget the filmmakers set out to follow Chomsky on a week when he was lecturing in Canada. The director admitted to not being a Chomsky fan at the time he started the film but was won over but Chomsky's charm, intellect and sly sense of humor (some of which you can see in the film). I think he called Chomsky "the best read grandfather alive" and told us about Chomsky's 18-hour days lecturing and doing interviews and would often lose his voice by dinner time, but would always try and have something left for talking with the people who follow him around wanting to ask him about some issue or another.
Often, Chomsky is seen talking about dour issues (war, government oppression, etc), so it was nice to see a film that shows him with his sarcastic sense of humor and a profound love and respect for others who are passionate about the world we live in. I have seen all the Chomsky films and what sets "Rebel" apart from the others is that you actually learn what makes Chomsky tick, what makes him the most active and important intellectual around and what makes him so interesting. I have read his books but found that this film actually gave me an insight into Noam Chomsky that I never had before. What were quite profound were the stories his wife (and manager) tell about how he reads six newspapers a day and how when he cites a source it's using something close to a photographic memory. His mind is a database of articles, interviews, lectures, policy speeches, etc and he can pin point an argument with precision. In "Rebel" you see him talking about September 11th and the war in Iraq among many topics and often he gets into discussions with other academics and students on various issues and its as if people want to out-argue him, but you can't. He's too prepared, too well researched and too smart to get beaten. His story about how the mainstream media has essentially blacklisted him (or been asked by higher powers to keep him off the airwaves) is quite telling. I had no idea that NPR would bow to a call from Washington and cancel a live interview with him moments before it was scheduled to happen. That is just one of the great stories in this little gem of a documentary. Another is the story about how the Cuban Missile Crisis should have been the start of WW3 but for the disobedience of a Russian submarine captain who refused an order from Moscow to fire his missiles when his submarine was being depth charged by the American navy. I had cheers when Chomsky told the story (all true). Chomsky was right when he said the Captain should be receiving every prize known to humanity for refusing to launch his missiles.
For those who don't know Chomsky, "Rebel Without A Pause" is a good overview of the man and his topics and unlike some other films about Chomsky, gives you a glimpse into Chomsky and what makes him the intellectual and cult figure he is.
Illuminating look at the world!
Christie Dys | New York, USA | 03/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can start by saying that I was never a fan of Noam Chomsky's. I don't care for politics. My husband does however and we went to see this film (his turn to buy). I walked out afterwards and was thinking about the film for days afterward. Chomsky has an ability to put in clear context, backed by facts and references to articles and newspapers the events of the last few years and to analyse what is going on in the world like few people can. This film is a great look at what Chomsky is into and while the film doesn't say he's right or wrong, it does let you hear what Chomsky has to say and balances it with those who know him (critics, fans and his wife most especially!) The film does show that Chomsky is a rock star for many. People hang on his every word, while others try to out debate him (you can't). What this film does is present Chomsky's most recent work on what is happening in Iraq, on government control of the media, the war on Terrorism (what you read in the papers versus what is actually happening) and a host of other topics. Inbetween he gets pretty candid about some things and his wife (who doubles as his manager) is quick to offer her take on what drives him to read six newspapers a day and what compells him at his late age to talk to so many people and give so many lectures. I have since watched some of the other Chomsky films and I'm looking forward to seeing this one again. Unlike the others that just have Chomsky lecturing for two hours, this film actually gave me an insight into the man himself and into his motivations at a time when most of his contemporaries are retired and playing golf. Chomsky doesn't do it for the money. He does what he does because he's angry at the lies in the media, angry at the state of the world and angry at how our governments are quietly seperating fact from fiction and trying to pass off manipulation and hypocrisy as truth. He believes the public activism and challenging our leaders to be more accountable are important in this day and age an d cites many examples over the last 50 years when "the people" have actually made a difference and influenced the course of events in America and elsewhere. Well worth watching even if you aren't a big Chomsky fan. Guaranteed you'll come out of the experience wiser about the world."
Enlightening Overview of Noam Chomsky
Fred Ashmore | London, UK | 04/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having read many of his books over the years I can spake to Chomsky's views with a bit of experience. This film provides an wonderful ovierwiew, analysis and synthesis of Chomsky's last two books "9,11" and "Hegemony or Survival" and is well worth watching. Looking at Chomsky's views on America before and after September 11th, "Rebel Without A Pause" provides a strong glimpse into the causes and effects of September 11th and how they are rippling around the world. Other chapters in this film include (if memory serves), Iraq, the war on terrorism, and how the media has become a mouthpiece for the powerful and the rich (and by extension our own governments). Chomsky unleashes his withering sarcasm and intellect on the world in this film and its interesting to watch him do this and then learn about the man and why he does this. In some ways, this is the film's greatest strength - it takes us behind the scenes into Chomsky's world and we learn more about him - how he works, what he reads, and what motivates him to keep taking on the establishment. Interesting, his stories of being censorsed on TV are almost as poweful as his attacks on Bush and company. If you've ever wanted to know more about Chomsky, what he's about and what it all means in the great scheme of things then this film will no doubt give you that and more."
Lisa Webb | Vancouver, BC, Canada | 03/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chomsky is not for everyone. This film was on the film festival circuit and I was lucky enough to see it twice (I admit to liking Chomsky's voice). Here is a man that is smart, articulate, well read and passionate. With so much spin in the media its nice to get a refreshing and frank assessment of the world from someone who is still passionate about our society. I have seen a few Chomsky films (he can have his own film festival now) and "Rebel Without A Pause" is probably the most current and relevant. "Manufacturing Consent" was great but its fifteen years old now and East Timor isn't an issue these days. "Rebel Without A Pause" has Chomsky waxing poetic on 9-11, Iraq, US global imperialism and about organizing and the role of the media in western society. All important stuff. This film breaks each down into specific topics so if you aren't interested in something you can move to the next section. What is really interesting is how others perceive him which refreshingly in this film makes it more about Chomsky and his passions then just about what he's writing about. This film could easily be a film companion to "Hegemony or Survival" and "9-1"' (Chomsky's latest books) as the film covers both of those books in quite detail. This film is worth checking out. I can't rate the DVD extras as I haven't seen the DVD yet, but the film is great and you don't have to really know Chomsky to be able to watch it. In fact, this film may be the best way to get to know his work."