Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Soundtrack for a Revolution (2009)

Group 1: By Tuesday morning, post a 3-400 word response on Berkeley in the Sixties, directed by Mark Kitchell.

Group 2: By Thursday at noon, post a 200 wordish response to something or things discussed by Group 1.


  1. From Andrew H:

    what i found most interesting about the movie "a soundtrack for revolution" was how close, if not the exact same thing, the music was to old gospil and negro sprituals. this is understandable because that form of music at its core is meant to help the singer and listener feel hopeful that they will overcome their bondage in life and spirit. this music, mainly because of where it gets its beginings, was also recogniozable to all that sang it, so a group could feel a strong sence on comrodary because they all at least knew the tune even if the lyrics were just being made up on the spot. also, the newly written sings were all written by and sung by people who were in the movement already so they all knew what they were about and could relate instantly. Mr. Belefaunte explains it the best i think when he talks about these negro sprituals being their oral history put to song and for the longest time it being the only way they could tell their stories.this music lifted their spirit and helped them remember why they were subjecting themselves to such heart ache and pain, it made them feel that no matter what they were going to come out of this on top. these songs were also good when they were feeling their worst. they could start to sing a song and everyonme would join in and it would give them hope.

    all of that said about the music in this movie, i thought that at a certain point in the film, if not the whole way through, it was more about the people than the music. yes, it did talk about the music they sang to help them through, but to me it seemed as though the music was just background to the people that both gave their lives and bodies and souls to the movement. a large part of the movie was also about what Martin Luther King meant to it. the movie ends with his death and at least half of the movie was about things that he himself helped organize.

  2. Kenta Goto
    When I watched the film this time, I had to find it on Netflix and watch the film without the rest of the class, so it was like a whole different experience. Soundtrack for a Revolution, I was interested in the music with archival footage and interviews. Music that served as the Soundtrack for a Revolution ranged from old spirituals to songs that formed as the words were spoken in protest.
    Particularly interesting in a weird and scary way are clips of white people talking about African-Americans like they were wild animals or invaders from another planet “Keep Alabama White” posters carried by middle class white men and women seem like artifacts from an evil culture. Soundtrack for a Revolution is a powerful record of a people’s commitment and perseverance in the face of inhuman ignorance, prejudice, and hatred.
    It’s nearly impossible for me to believe that in America people were beaten and murdered because of the color of their skin or their belief in justice and equality. Sadly, the testimony of those who were in places like Selma and Birmingham back in the day are convincing archival footage and photographs underscore their memories.
    Even in the movie Freedom Riders, it was shocking to me that such event has happened in the 60's. Segregation is a one thing but beating and attempt of murder was more then I can handle watching the film.
    Coming from a music loving person I enjoy the music part of the film. Singing as a one group and united by singing, I would feel stronger as well if I were to be there with them.
    The film closing with Martin Luther King Jr's death was indeed a sad moment.

  3. I was amaze by these people being so positive while leaving a nightmare. Here they are leaving under oppression in a very negative environment and they still find spiritual light throughout soul Negro spiritual music. That music is so powerful and so positive and they improvised the lyric while being in a jail or prison. All I got to say is: “WOW!! “
    I love that story when they starts singing out loud and the correctional officer told them that if they don’t shut their mouth they would take their soap from them or mattress, then they starts to sing with their mouth shut so the correctional officer cannot say:” shut your mouth or I will do this or that! “It’s funny in a way….
    then the correctional officer tell them that if they keep singing, ((even so their mouth are close as they taught themselves to sing with a close mouth) ) that they will take something else’s from them and these people starts to use the context of whatever they gone take away from them as part of their lyric in their son !! Hilarious I think even so it was awful back in that period of history. We can now look it from a certain angle and joke with a type of humor I guess as we look back, since its over but in reality, I should not call it “funny” but the people that are interviewed in the documentary keep laughing and joking, it almost look like it was a good souvenir or memory for them which is strange. However they did win their case about segregation to an extent …but I’m surprise to see how they don’t seem to show suffering from the past in their face’s expression while being interviewed but they actually did suffer psychologically and physically. This documentary shows us how far we came from in term of democracy and thanks to the people standing up for themselves by music, by voicing what they think it’s wrong.

    My favorite quote of the movie, and in life of everyday was:

    “You can kill the Dreamer, but you CAN’T Kill the Dream. “

    “Amen” to that Brothers and sisters!

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  5. From Jessica W:

    “They can take away everything else, but they cant take away our songs; our songs feed our souls.” However it is that you choose to view it, soul driven by an innate God-given passion is the common factor I have found in all the documentaries shown thus far. I feel like this particular film went the extra mile in showing how music during the civil rights era helped feed the souls of activists nationwide. I myself being an avid lover of practically all genres, found this film especially interesting in regards to how it connected music to a revolution on non-violent protests. To give you a slightly clearer idea of what I took in from the film, let’s take the song “we shall overcome” for example. This one song apparently played a vital role in the lives of millions during this time. One of the men in the film was quoted saying that this song gave hope to the movement. The fact that the vast majority of protests were non-violent is more than impressive all in itself. Then to see what was then live footage, of masses of people all singing about the hope that they one day shall overcome their racial oppression, even after having been met with violence and abuse to their non-violent protest, gave the hymn a whole new melody. I feel the director also placed a little more importance on this particular song by bringing it up later on in the film, thus why I am writing on it. President Johnson was even shown quoted the main lyric, “we shall overcome,” while addressing the issue to Congress on what was then live television. I feel that the transformation of an old negro spiritual used by slaves, into a coined term of emotional endurance that was even used by a caucasian president during the civil rights movement, gives even more evidence to how much of an impact music can play. I overall enjoyed the viewing, but thought they that while the musical performances was a large chunk of the film, that a slightly different angle of approaching the material could’ve made it much more interesting. I could go into depth on this “angle” but that would be take up a lot longer than 400 words J

  6. Amanda DeRossett (Group 2):

    I really enjoyed the film "Soundtrack for a Revolution", because of all the great music and I felt like it showed an emotional aspect of the 1960's. The film also gave us clips from the 1960 "Mississippi State" film, that discussed all the segregated areas of the state of Mississippi and how the African Americans felt about it. This film mostly focused on the civil rights and Martin Luther King Jr., which was different from the other films we've watched in class. The other films had a variety of events that happened in the 1960's, this film only focused mainly on civil rights and MLK Jr. I thought that was great because we got to see more of what was going on, and how MLK Jr. was handling everything. One of my classmates stated that you could see MLK Jr.'s vulnerable side in this film, because of everything he was going through at the time. MLK Jr. had to deal with a lot of hate that was aimed towards him and a lot of violence. The film was also great because of all the music. Artists like The Blind Boys to Joss Stone to John Ledged, all made appearances on this documentary film. Each artist performed songs from the 1960's that meant something to the people back then. One of my favorite scenes from the film is when the black children got involved with the protests, it showed that not only were adults affected by this hate, but the children too. They stood up for something they believed in. At the end of the film, they celebrate the life of MLK Jr. and it shows the audience how his dream is still alive.

  7. From Geri B:

    Group 2)

    The definition of Music- The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/music).

    Soundtrack for a Revolution created its own definition of music. Civil activist defined music as a way of communicating. In all reality, music is what got them through the Civil Rights Movement. Music provided them with the courage, will, and the drive to continue on. The police men couldn't take away their songs. One of the Civil Rights activist said, "You can break my arm, you can break my bones, but you cannot break my spirit."

    Music created a sense of solidarity. Some of their song titles were: "Wade in the Water", "Don't you hinder me", "We shall overcome", "I'm on my way", "Marching up to Freedom Land, and "Stayed on Freedom". There is a mass amount of inspiration in the song titles alone. I enjoy inspirational music and I wish there were more of it today. Majority of the music in today's society is degrading. Too much of our music involves violence. Although, most of our music still serves a purpose. The question is, the correct kind of purpose? In my opinion, it's not.

  8. Austin M:

    “You can cage the singer, but not the song”- that is the quote from the beginning of Soundtrack for a Revolution, and it fits in perfectly to a recurring theme in our study of films from the 60’s. That theme is persistence. In Berkeley in the 60’s the students at Cal. Berkeley kept protesting until they had more rights, in Freedom Riders civil right activist kept riding buses and getting thrown in jail until segregation on buses was outlawed. And in Soundtrack for a Revolution civil right activist keep protesting until they achieve the ultimate goal, and that is to end all segregation.
    This film focuses on aspects not previously seen in this class, such as a more detailed look into Martin Luther King’s involvement in the civil rights movement, culminating in his death at the end of the film. Another aspect that interested me was this film felt more real to me than the others. This was because the clips of Medgar Evers, Emmitt Till, etc were saddening, they showed pictures of the deceased from the civil rights movement, hitting home just how many lives had been lost to this movement. In other films deaths were mentioned, but the deaths were never given a name, never given a face, unlike this film. I was also amazed to learn that Louisville had participated in the civil rights movement, with a brief clip of Louisville cops rounding up protestors and putting them in a cop car. This especially hit home because of how close the civil rights movement was to us.

  9. The documentary soundtrack for a revolution combines a lot of the views and thoughts of the other 60’s documentaries that we have watched in class in to one spectacular overview of music, desegregation, and making peace. At first I thought that this documentary was going to just cover different bands that had sparked a revolution, but I quickly realized what the main music driving this revolution. Mostly derived from religious lyrics and melodies the people moving desegregation forward customized their own lyrics to get their point across. Remembering that their protests are of the non violent type singing goes along perfectly as far as a way to make a point as a group goes. These songs were fueled by much more than just words, the soul and inspiration behind theses song can be felt in every note. It really reflects the electricity felt in dr. kings speeches also featured in the film. In closing the line from the film that I feel best describes the movement as a whole is “You can kill the dreamer, but you can never kill the dream.”

  10. From Danielle B:

    I agree that the film Soundtrack for a Revolution is somewhat similar to a few of the other films because of its emphasis on the role of music during the sixties; however, it gives a bit of a different musical perspective. Rather than focusing on the Caucasian rock style of music, we got to see more importance placed on old gospel and Negro spirituals as Andrew points out. This music created a great sense of community, which seems to have been essential for the sixties. Even though times were hard, they were able to stay positive through the situation as Julien mentions. A quote that Jessica uses that I feel fits with the positive outlook very well is, “They can take away everything else, but they can’t take away our songs; our songs feed our souls”. When they had nothing else, they had music and each other. I also agree with Andrew that this film was more about the people who dedicated themselves to the movement instead of the music itself. The music is a really big important part of what kept the people going and allowed them to express everything they were experiencing, but the main focus is on those who were giving everything and fought whole-heartedly. The people were the pieces and the music was the glue.