Robert Redford has a very soft spot for ’60s-era terrorists, the kind that staged violent attacks on American soil to protest the country’s involvement in Vietnam.
The writer/director’s latest film, The Company You Keep, finds the aging star playing a former radical who goes on the run when his assumed identity is compromised by a young journalist (Shia LaBeouf).
Redford shared his views on the real-life ’60s radicals like The Weather Underground gang during a soft and fuzzy chat with purported journalist George Stephanopoulos.
ROBERT REDFORD: … When I was younger, I was very much aware of the movement. I was more than sympathetic, I was probably empathetic because I believed it was time for a change. Whether that change was a revolution or not, I don’t know. But I was very much for what was going on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even when you read about bombings?
REDFORD: All of it. I knew that it was extreme and I guess movements have to be extreme to some degree. Years later I thought this is an interesting story but we’re too close to it and I thought, when this gets– when we get some distance from this so that we can look back on it as a piece of American history then I might be interested and now that’s the time. So that’s why I decided to make it now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you come out of the experience with the same kinds of empathy that you had going in?
REDFORD: Yeah, I’ve bled a little for those that look back and realize what they did in their youth when they were full of passion and intensity, that subsides over time. But the only thing that sticks is the thrill of that moment, the thrill of that movement when they were committing all of themselves to something they believed in.
Ah, the thrill of killing innocents for something a teenager believes in for a heady moment or two.
As for the movie itself, while this critic hasn’t screened it yet others are already describing key aspects of the film.
Time magazine notes the film “is streaked with melancholy: a disappointment that the second American Revolution never came …”
Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin doesn’t mince words about the film (as if she ever did):
Hollywood’s romanticizing of murderous radicals is an affront to decency. Redford and Company’s rose-colored hagiography of bloodstained killers defiles the memory of all those victimized by leftwing militants on American soil.
The Company You Keep opens in limited release April 5.