THE BERRIGANS: DEVOUT AND DANGEROUS, 80min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Susan Hagedorn
Devout and Dangerous is the story of an American family who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 1970 for their opposition to the Vietnam War and continues resisting militarism for the next half century. The Berrigans take on the Catholic Church and the United States government at the peril of their freedom, families and reputation, all for the sake of peace and faith. They sacrificed everything—defying the church they held so dear, spending years of their lives in prison, and parenting from behind bars—to demonstrate the true fundamentals of Christianity: peace, equality and the guts to tell the truth. Despite Cardinal Spellman, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon and others in power battling to ban the Berrigans and their followers, the Berrigans became examples for heroes like Daniel Ellsberg who resisted the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons and international militarism.
Told through the perspective of the youngest Berrigans, Devout and Dangerous digs deep into the exploits that made the Berrigans pop icons, the subjects of rock songs, appearing on the front page of newspapers, in films (The Mission), on talk shows (Dick Cavett) and in pulpits world-wide. Using live footage of demonstrations and non-violent actions, archival footage, and interviews with an impressive host of notable figures the Berrigans inspired, Devout & Dangerousmakes the point that non-violent direct action is as relevant today as it was in the past.
Dan’s poetry, read by actor Liam Neeson, and Phil’s intimate letters, read by actor Bill Pullman, are woven through the film. The Berrigans had no choice but to leave behind their lives of sacred comfort to act against war and racism. Devout and Dangerous brings the Berrigans alive, inspiring us at this dangerous crossroads that fighting for what’s right is not a choice, but a necessity.