|The Murder of Fred Hampton|
|Directed by||Howard Alk|
|Produced by||Mike Gray|
|Edited by||Howard Alk|
|Distributed by||Facets Multi-Media|
Chicago Film Group, MGA Inc
The Murder of Fred Hampton is a 1971 documentary film about the short life and death of Fred Hampton, a young African-American civil rights activist in Chicago and leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party. During the film's production, Hampton was fatally shot on December 4, 1969 in a pre-dawn raid at his apartment by the Chicago Police Department.
Filmmakers Howard Alk and Mike Gray, director and producer, respectively, went to Hampton's apartment, which was unsecured, and took film footage of the crime scene. This was later used to challenge news reports and police testimony about the events. They also conducted investigative reporting into his death, which is included in the film; their conclusion is expressed in the title.
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The documentary is split into two parts: a portrait of Fred Hampton and an investigative report into his death in the police raid. Through re-enactments, evidence from the scene, and interviews, the documentary alleges that Hampton's death was murder, an assassination by the Chicago police.
In retrospective reviews in the early 21st century, Roger Ebert described the film as "less compelling as investigative journalism than as an archive of political vernacular." A. H. Weiler of The New York Times called it "a disturbingly somber illustration of some of the ills that beset us and our social system." Spencer Parsons of the Austin Chronicle wrote that the film's coverage of Hampton is riveting and does not shy away from controversy. Noel Murray of The A.V. Club rated it B+ and called it an immersive experience and "more satisfying portrait of activism" than American Revolution 2 (1969), which Alk also directed.
David Walker of DVD Talk rated it 4.5/5 stars and wrote,
"As a documentary, The Murder of Fred Hampton serves as a lasting memorial to Hampton's great legacy and tragic killing. Equally important, the film is an example of the power of independent media in providing the truth, when much of the mainstream media simply chooses to recycle the information they are given without digging beneath the surface."