A very important 20th Century activist and prophet was put in a vice by the government in an implicitly telling new documentary for Sam Pollard. As the holiday of the intrepid, slain figure who marched on Washington in 1963 approaches.
MLK/FBI uses a broad canvas to make some timely strokes about where protest and power in heightened legal terms as it works from recent declassified tapes from the agency asserting itself in the civil rights movement. And, haunting Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his fight to move a country forward to a more united place. One that is far from over in the early Century.
Old footage with unseen talking heads, as some of the bigger names include Andrew Young and former director James Comey, is modulated and edited with much precision. As the lapses and breakdowns of a country are realized from the type of surveillance (wiretapping) seen in the crusade of longtime director J. Edgar Hoover.
The opportunity to discredit King in his philandering at hotels didn’t end up working in Hoover’s favor. But, his virulence soldiered on into “the darkest part of the bureau’s history” through undercover tracing that is all on the record. Other tapes aren’t scheduled for release for another half dozen years and the ideas of historians being complicit is part of the shameful nature of what the director even has bureau officials sadly regaling. Part of which is what was strongly suggested t King and his apparent knowledge of an abutting heinous act.
The interpretative quality of what’s on view and often heard makes for a fascinating, if frustrating experience. Especially in the moral relativism around insinuating intimate occurrences that just aren’t leaked. At least as the lasting qualities of King and his unrelenting, ghostly pursuer are linked that still cast a pail over a nation’s Capitol.