Alt Film Guide
Classic movies. Gay movies. International cinema. Socially conscious & political cinema.
Home Movie News Howard Zinn: Author & Movie Subject + ‘Good Will Hunting’ Mention

Howard Zinn: Author & Movie Subject + ‘Good Will Hunting’ Mention


Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

Howard Zinn, author of the revisionist tome A People’s History of the United States, died in Santa Monica, California, on Wednesday. He was 87.

The Brooklyn-born writer and teacher – admired by progressives, reviled by reactionaries – had his People’s History mentioned by friend and admirer Matt Damon in the 1997 drama Good Will Hunting, for which Damon and Ben Affleck won Academy Awards for best original screenplay. Among other well-known Zinn admirers are Bruce Springsteen and one of Zinn’s former students, Alice Walker.

The subtitle of Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller’s 2004 documentary Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, narrated by Damon, was taken from one of Zinn’s books. The biographical film was one of the semi-finalists for the 2004 Academy Awards, but failed to get a nomination.

Last week, The Nation published a series of brief essays in which Zinn and a number of other contributors looked back at the first year of the Obama administration.

“As far as disappointments, I wasn’t terribly disappointed because I didn’t expect that much,” Zinn wrote. “I expected him to be a traditional Democratic president. On foreign policy, that’s hardly any different from a Republican – as nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike. … I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president – which means, in our time, a dangerous president – unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.”

Daniel Ellsberg, himself the subject of a documentary that is one of this year’s Oscar semi-finalists – Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith’s The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers – remembers Zinn in a piece posted at antiwar.org.

Recommended for You

Leave a Comment

*IMPORTANT*: By using this form you agree with Alt Film Guide's storage and handling of your data (e.g., your IP address). Make sure your comment adds something relevant to the discussion: Feel free to disagree with us, but *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative. Abusive, inflammatory, spammy/self-promotional, baseless (spreading mis- or disinformation), and just plain deranged comments will be zapped. Lastly, links found in submitted comments will generally be deleted.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. If you continue browsing, that means you've accepted our Terms of Use/use of cookies. You may also click on the Accept button on the right to make this notice disappear. Accept Read More