How far is the media in control? Is what you're seeing real, distorted or contrived? Medium Cool is to take this underlying theme and to mould it into a exploration of inner city life, American society in a period of huge change, and the power/needs of the media in a TV dominated world, while, in parallel, producing a gripping record of what it's like to be in the centre of a demonstration that's spiraling out of control.
Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool (1969) is remembered as one of the great political films of its era—hot in the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention.
Medium Cool is notable for Wexler's use of cinéma vérité-style documentary filmmaking techniques, as well as for combining fictional and non-fictional content. "truthful cinema”. Additionally the film questions the role and responsibilities of television and its newscasts.
The Whole World Is Watching
The title of Haskell Wexler’s film of 1969, which suggested a critique of Marshall McLuhan’s distinction between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ media, Medium Cool suggests that video is an idea rather than a technology; as an umbrella term for a particular set of practices, it promises democracy while at the same time threatening to reduce images to information.
“Movies have a way of capturing the moment better than recreating it.”
Shot at a time of great social and political counterculture upheaval in the United States, Wexler's film reflects the conflicted nature of a country divided by issues of race, gender, poverty, crime, and war. Such themes were touched upon by more mainstream films such as Getting Straight and The Strawberry Statement, but Wexler's treatment was considered highly controversial – the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system gave it an 'X' rating. The censors "objected to the language and the nudity," Wexler said later; "What no one had the nerve to say was that it was a political 'X'". In 1970 the film was re-rated 'R'.