We gave it a B-
These two West Coast documentaries set out to prove that the ’60s have gotten a bum rap. Through archival footage and interviews with former campus activists, the Oscar-nominated Berkeley in the Sixties attempts to establish that the political awakening of idealistic students really did change the world. The mostly thoughtful interviewees can be forgiven for occasionally romanticizing and inflating the triumphs of their glory days, but the heavy-handed narration is harder to overlook. At best it’s superfluous; at worst it tells viewers what to think.
If Berkeley overstates its case, the self-indulgent Flashing on the Sixties undermines it, relying on flaky reminiscences from the likes of Wavy Gravy to tout the legacy of the love generation. With testimonials from today’s youth thanking the filmmakers for showing them the way to save the planet, this nostalgia trip makes you long for the Eisenhower years. Berkeley: B- Flashing: D