Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)

The Trial of Billy Jack

Written by Tom Laughlin & Delores Taylor
Directed by Tom Laughlin

Billy Jack...Tom Laughlin
Jean...Delores Taylor
Carol...Theresa Laughlin
Doc...Victor Izay

Following the events of the previous entry in the series, Billy Jack is sentenced to 5 to 15 years in the state pen.  He is released in the minimum amount of years, but during that time a lot changes on the outside.  Jean, the heart and soul of the Freedom School, keeps things moving at a steady clip, and the institution grows exponentially, all in Billy's honor.  The school develops their own alternative newspaper, and even their own television station, through which they expose the corruption of the town and its leaders.  And so, when Billy Jack is finally free to return to his home, he walks right back into the boiling pot of tension and hatred that he had left behind.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Wealthy industrialists have bribed the government in order to get their dirty hands on property that belonged to the Native Americans, spawning massive debates on Native American rights.  The coverage of these events by the students results in the bombing of their transmission tower.  This act of terrorism divides the members of the Freedom School, some wanting to partake in another peaceful protest while others want to branch into a more reactive group--going so far as to discuss their own acts of terrorism.  Their hero Billy Jack is against it, as is their mentor Jean.  But the two have done such a good job of teaching the kids to think for themselves that they refuse to listen to anyone who doesn not share their new, dangerous opinion.

Billy Jack continues on his spiritual journey here, and we're taken along on his vision quest as he enters into the Cave of the Dead and speaks with the goddess.  Much of this part of the movie reminds me of the great Don Juan series of metaphysical books by Carlos Castenada, which I really enjoyed.  It also gave us a deeper insight into Billy Jack's character, and perhaps gave Billy Jack himself a little deeper insight as well.  Not that he isn't still at odds with himself.

The Trial of Billy Jack is even longer than its predecessors--it clocks in at nearly three hours!--and tries to cover so much ground that there's an 'everything but the kitchen sink' feeling I just couldn't shake.  It's true, a little editing could have done wonders for this entry, but I'm just glad that the improvisational skits that so ruined the pacing in Billy Jack have been dropped completely, although there are still a few musical protest numbers along the way.

Some will say this movie is a sloppy.  Others will say it is pretentious.  And still others will say that it is sometimes blatantly ridiculous and unbelievable.  And, I'm not going to lie to you here, hipsters:  It is; it really, really is.  The Trial of Billy Jack is one hot mess of a film, there is no denying that.  And yet, I am such a fan of the Billy Jack character that I can not honestly bear any resentment towards this installment.

Call me a sucker, but I love you, Billy Jack.  Even when you are a pretentious bastard.

Rated PG
173 Minutes
United States


1 comment:

  1. whats the probability of downloading, from say a P2P file sharing network, a copy of the song "Golden Lady" that was sung by Lynn Baker at the end of the movie... Trial of Billy Jack??


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