SIXTH SIDE OF THE PENTAGON, THE (La sixième face du pentagone)

(director: Chris Marker/François Reichenbach; screenwriter: Chris Marker; cinematographer: Chris Marker; Runtime: 26; MPAA Rating: NR; Icarus Films; 1968-France-in English)

“Serves as a time capsule for a period of great change in America.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title is lifted from a Zen proverb—”If the five sides of the pentagon appear impregnable, attack the sixth side.”

A short political documentary codirected by the 46-year-old French filmmaker Chris Marker (“La Jetée”/”Sans Soleil”) and François Reichenbach, that serves as a time capsule for a period of great change in America. It documents the October 21, 1967 march to end the Vietnam War in D.C. that took place on the steps of the Pentagon. The largest antiwar demonstration to that point in time drew over 1000,000 protestors from hippies, political activists, black militants, veterans against the war, celebrities like Norman Mailer and Peter, Paul and Mary, and a healthy cross-section of leftist groups. It was a time when the mostly young crowd found a need to take direct action to stop the “American War Machine.”

We witness the burning of draft cards, antiwar speeches, Yippies chanting “out, demons, out!”, marchers chanting “Peace Now,” the swell of protestors rushing up the steps of the Pentagon and being clubbed by nervous soldiers, and Marker’s cynical and droll narration as he observes the crowd in action.