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also known as The Trials of Norman Finkelstein

American Radical2009

  • 4.4
A devoted son of Holocaust survivors and ardent critic of Israeli foreign policy, the polarizing American political scientist and author Norman Finkelstein has been called a lunatic and self-hating Jew by some, and an inspirational revolutionary by others. Exploring the deeply complex issues at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, AMERICAN RADICAL is the insightful and enraging documentary that follows Finkelstein around the world as he attempts to negotiate a voice among his impassioned critics and supporters. Uncompromising even in the face of his recent denial of tenure at DePaul University, Finkelstein is revealed as a complex and supremely lonely figure whose self-destructive nature often undermines his academic credibility. A guaranteed argument starter, this potent documentary plunges viewers into the psychological and intellectual underpinnings of a vitriolic personality.

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4 members like this review

I found American Radical to be a thoughtful, very personal examination of a complex man who has been largely distorted by the mainstream media. Far from being a deranged demagogue, Norman Finkelstein is revealed to be a man of deep principled person, grappling with the violent legacy of the Holocaust while refusing to let that history be used to justify the brutal policies of the Israeli state. I tend to largely agree with Finkelstein but I was surprised to see the intimate side of his very public intellectual life. In this way, American Radical does what the best biographical documentaries should do, peel back the layers of commonsense that surround public figures and to illuminate the internal struggles and challenges that drive their work. For his supporters and critics alike, it is essential viewing.

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Member Reviews (7)

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top reviewer

I found American Radical to be a thoughtful, very personal examination of a complex man who has been largely distorted by the mainstream media. Far from being a deranged demagogue, Norman Finkelstein is revealed to be a man of deep principled person, grappling with the violent legacy of the Holocaust while refusing to let that history be used to justify the brutal policies of the Israeli state. I tend to largely agree with Finkelstein but I was surprised to see the intimate side of his very public intellectual life. In this way, American Radical does what the best biographical documentaries should do, peel back the layers of commonsense that surround public figures and to illuminate the internal struggles and challenges that drive their work. For his supporters and critics alike, it is essential viewing.

4 members like this review
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As a Romanian- Israeli now living in AZ, i can safely say that this is an amazing movie with which I identify both as a Jew and an israeli. Mr. Finkelstein's statements , are truthful, brilliant, well documented and with which I identify. I am sad that he is a lonely voice out there courageous enough to tell the truth. Israelis, and I have many Israeli friends both in Israel and in the US, do not want to admit to what is happening and that the current situation cannot continue forever. I absolutely agree with Courneydm, this is essential viewing.

It is also extremely pathetic that Donald Ramsfeld teaches at Stanford yet mr. Finkelstein has yet to have a secure job in a good University. That is why the US is in a massive decline.

I am grateful for this movie

1 member likes this review
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You don't have to be a supporter of Finkelstein to enjoy this documentary. I was interested in this film precisely because I find myself at odds with his political views, and hoped that it would provide some insight into his thinking and motivation. It did not disappoint. It succeeds in telling Finkelstein's personal story yet manages to remain (for the most part) neutral.

A man of courage and great principle who may be strident in his views in an age when lack of 'civility' has cost others their teaching positions also ie. Prof Salaita in the U of Illinois. He is currently raising funds to rebuild alAwaida hospital in Gaza largely unrebuilt after the latest Israeli attack. It surely helps one to think what a great cost be true to oneself can take.

WONDERFUL -

WE LACK PEOPLE OF THE SAME CONVICTION .HE'S our DOCTOR KING OF THESE TIMES.

And we all know what happened to him in the end.

This documentary provides a thorough, intimate look into the life of one of America's most prolific critics of Israel, Norm Finkelstein. The film walks viewers through both the academic career and personal life of Mr. Finkelstein, drawing on numerous interviews from both his critics and supporters. It is an honest, up-close glance at a man whose passionate views have garnered him both praise and recognition, as well as ostracism, from the academic community. This was an outstanding documentary!

An engaging, considered portrait of this provocative scholar. I enjoy how the film contrasts Norman's rock star tours and reception with his own personal feelings of guilt and self doubt. The film certainly gives both his promoters and his detractors plenty of ammunition..