You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Rated 4.0

The recently departed Howard Zinn is the subject of this documentary by Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, and it’s rich with bits of interviews and speeches with the man himself. Narrated by Matt Damon (who name-checked Zinn’s masterwork, A People’s History of the United States, in Good Will Hunting), the film is a sort of developmental biography, using Zinn’s recollections and those of his colleagues to recount how he became “radicalized.” A number of his fellow historians are included, along with former students (the novelist Alice Walker, Zinn’s student at Spelman College, recounts his support of civil-rights activism by the usually conservative students at that historically black college) and compatriots from the anti-war movement of the 1970s. Bonus features in this special commemorative edition include several speeches and interviews (including one with the late Studs Terkel), and Zinn’s recommended reading list.