A flawless ensemble cast brings to life this powerful 1970s coming-of-age drama, war chronicle and unconventional love story set in the shadow of Kent State's turbulent events. Written and directed by Jay Craven and based ... more »on the novel by Scott Lax, this "intimate, subtly riveting, and richly reminiscent" (Portland Press Herald) masterpiece follows a group of young people caught up in events that will transform their lives in ways they cannot imagine. Punctuated by authentic period footage, a soundtrack that includes 17 songs from the era, "lush cinematography and stellar performances" (Cleveland Plain Dealer), The Year That Trembled is a haunting portrait of a time when passions ignited a nation and choices became a matter of life and death.« less
A "Must see" the translates well to what's happening today
Thomas Schroth | Marietta, GA United States | 12/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The writer's passions show through in this great novel's screenplay adaptation. It is great to see that literary artists are still out there writing from the heart, not trying to create something strictly for salability to Hollywood and the public.If you want a "thinking person's" movie you will be satisfied. This can be as deep as you want it to be and those who can remember that time will surely have old feelings stirred and the current generation will get insight into what their parents felt and how controversial a time it was.Made me take stock in my own life and served as a reminder of how precious life is and how valuable friendship can and should be! Make it a part of your library and flag it for annual viewing! Check out the original Novel as well!"
The way it kinda was
Thomas Schroth | 12/20/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"War protests, Vietnam, Kent State. This Indie film tries to capture the time through actual footage of the events taking place and through the eyes of young men facing the scariest rite of reaching manhood - the draft - and almost succeeds. Deduct points for the whole thing being too clean and pretty. It wasn't either.
The acting ranges from awful to outstanding, but the stiffness of the younger cast members improves as the movie progresses, especially in scenes with veterans like Fred Willard, Martin Mull and Henry Gibson onscreen to steady them down. Marian Hinkle is quite good as the teacher who is fired for her anti-war sentiments. Even better, is Jonathan M. Woodward as her husband, a decent guy who is systematically betrayed by his government, his employer and his wife. Although not one of the stars, Woodward's performance carries the film, and it is a mystery why his name doesn't appear on the front cover of the DVD at all. Bill Raymond is also excellent as a bitter disabled vet who offers practical, if not legal, advice to the young men, and it's a shame he isn't seen more.
Biggest letdown comes when the life-shattering effects of dodging the draft are reduced to a happy ride to Canada on a motor scooter and the decent guy pays the price for doing the right thing, but since sympathy in the film lies with the dodgers and not the men who did their service, this is not surprising.
The DVD has no extra features, and no commentary, which is unfortunate, because you really will wonder what they were thinking when they shot certain scenes. Remember it's a low-budget, independent film, so don't expect too much - see it for its great moments, forgive it for its flaws."
Made me a tad Weepy!
Holly Shivel | Huntington, WV | 03/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a Jonathan Brandis fan since the days his face adorned the cover of BOP and Tiger Beat magazines. I followed his career with glee and taped every episode of SeaQuest in order to see his baby blues peeking at me from the depts of my tv. And when I found out that he had ended his life I was both heart-broken and outraged.
So when I happened across this movie, I jumped at the chance to buy one of the last films he appeared in. And I wasn't disappointed in the least. I enjoyed seeing "Andy" from Dawson's Creek and "Knox" from Angel, as well.
The trials and tribulations of college-aged kids, trying to grow-up yet still being controlled by the adults around them was enough to make me thankful my childhood was spent without too much home threats of war.
I recommend this flick to any and all who : 1. Love Jonathan Brandis (a line in the movie will break your heart, though: "I could just die right now..." Cuz - ya know - he's not living...) 2. dig a love triangle as complicated as Bermuda's, and 3. oppose War and all it has to "offer."
Uneven but worthwhile
William Timothy Lukeman | 04/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Films about the 1960s are always difficult -- some go no deeper than the familiar media images, others fail to capture the tone of that unique time. This one does something a little different by looking at the end of the 1960s, following the lives of several high school graduates sharing a house near Kent State after the 1970 shootings. They represent a cross-section of young America at the time, with the late Jonathan Brandis our point-of-view character, aspiring writer Casey Pederson: politically & culturally a bit left of center, but no hippie or radical. (His tragic death shortly after making this film lends it additional poignancy.)
Casey & his friends are waiting for the first draft lottery, which hangs over their summer like a black cloud of potential doom. Having endured the same horrible wait back then, I can attest that the ominous feeling is captured perfectly, as well as the sense that the optimism & ideals of the earlier 1960s were fading away. We all sensed that things were going to be very different in the 1970s, nothing like the golden future of peace & understanding we had envisioned -- and the film conveys this with precision.
The low budget gives it a sort of ramshackle feeling, and at times the quality veers into made-for-TV territory. The script & acting are a bit uneven, especially at first; but as the story continues, a certain emotional power builds up. Characters are forced into narrowing corners with fewer & fewer choices, and several make the wrong ones, both politically & personally. Casey's brooding & uncertainty, his unspoken but obvious need for something genuine, for fidelity & love & faith in the future, is superbly portrayed. It rings just as true today as it did then. And Marin Hinkle gives a warm, wonderful performance as the fired high school teacher who is both guiding mother figure & troubled woman.
Sometimes the necessary intensity or insight is lacking ... but on the whole, this film is a reminder of a time when teenagers thought about more than mass market fads, and considered their place in the world & their need to make something better of it. The cost of bearing that weight, which led to both self-betrayal & rising to idealistic heights, is depicted well. They were all so terribly young.... The film will leave you with a bittersweet afterglow, and a realization that its message is all too relevant again today. Recommended!"
Would recommend to fans of independent film
Stephanie Hipkins | Delaware | 03/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not a big fancy film, but very good for a small independent film. The cast as a whole gave a great performance; Jon Brandis, in one of his last projects, was excellent. I wish this film had been given the wider theatrical release it deserved."