William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
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William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
During the second half of the 20th century, William Kunstler was one of the most admired attorneys in America -- and one of the most hated. Kunstler was a man who thrived on controversial cases; in the 1960s, he specialized in defending clients who ran afoul of the law on civil rights and free speech issues, and he spoke on behalf of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Lenny Bruce, members of the Black Panther Party, Native American activists, and prisoner's rights groups. Kunstler found himself in the national media spotlight in 1969 when he defended "the Chicago Eight," activists… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Like the recent animated documentary Chicago Ten, this is a timely reminder of a era when "change" was more than just a campaign slogan. But it's also a personal portrait, with shadings."
‑ Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Terrific archival footage from a range of seminal civil rights events, as well as affecting narration written by Sarah Kunstler and spoken by Emily Kunstler (who also edited the film), round out this superior documentary."
‑ Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
"A testament, at least in part, to Kunstler's long and controversial career as a lawyer-activist, defending members of minorities and unpopular causes, and changing the law and the country in the process."
‑ Robert Roten, Laramie Movie Scope
"One of the most pronounced recent trends in documentary is the use of the medium as a form of public therapy."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"Civil rights? The American Indian Movement? The Chicago 10 trial? The Central Park rape trial? Attica prison riots? Kunstler was in the thick of all of them."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
"William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe offers a deeply personal view of a larger-than-life figure. It's a view filtered through a prism of memory and emotion, but one well worth investigating."
‑ Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
"The film's point is clear. And for those looking for a straight answer, it's this: The bravest lawyer isn't the one who takes on the clients that allow him to feel good about himself. It's the one who takes on the clients that give us nightmares."
‑ Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post
"Tries to examine and then reconcile Kunstler's legacy as a fighter for causes with his choosing to defend mobsters, terrorists, rapists and drug dealers."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"The radical lawyers' daughters - Emily and Sarah Kunstler - provide us with an intimate if not always flattering portrait of the man The New York Times once called 'the most hated and most loved lawyer in America.'"
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"His daughters, Emily and Sarah Kunstler, made this timely documentary partly to celebrate their late father (he died in 1995) and partly to reiterate his fundamental beliefs."
‑ Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
"Leading the defense in the 1969-70 trial of the Chicago Seven, William Kunstler became a radical and a celebrity, and this vivid documentary captures how those two facets of his life worked together in morally urgent and contradictory ways."
‑ Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"Kunstler's accomplishments, principles and courage are all here in Disturbing the Universe. But there is something else that adds an unexpected layer of emotional complexity."
‑ Tom Keogh, Seattle Times
"Still worth seeing despite the co-directors' inability to understand that a great lawyer will go out of his or her way to defend people being tried and convicted in places like the NY Post."
‑ Louis Proyect, rec.arts.movies.reviews
"A very moving tribute to an underappreciated hero who spent his life as a tireless defender of the defenseless."
‑ Kam Williams, NewsBlaze
"...an in-depth but deeply emotional chronicle of their father's fascinating life."
‑ Todd Gilchrist, BitterLawyer.com
More reviews for William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe on Rotten Tomatoes