The Sixth Side Of The Pentagon

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Chris Marker’s The Sixth Side Of The Pentagon (1968) captures the fervor of the Yippies’ protest of the Vietnam war at the Pentagon on October 7th, 1967.  This non-violent protest rapidly devolved into a confrontation with MPs and police, of which the most popular account is surely Norman Mailer’s often self-critical Armies Of The Night.  For my purposes the history comes second to the presentation of the images that make-up the history.

Naturally, Marker’s film covers the initial conception of the protest in New York, then follows the Yippies to Washington DC to levitate the Pentagon.  In this way, once the violence breaks out between police and demonstrators, the viewer intuitively sides with the radical left.  To further reinforce this strategy Marker uses several cut-aways to news footage of Vietnamese civilians mutilated by either bombings or napalm.  All of the while authority figures, such as the MPs and police officers, are relegated to a kind of faceless mass bloodying all those who clash with it.