In late November 1999, masses are descending upon Seattle for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference, the first ever held on American soil. Beyond the several delegates, career protesters are also coming to Seattle, they who believe the non-elected organization only exists to support corporate interests at the expense of the poor, working class and the environment among other things. Before the conference, the lead known protesters vow that their demonstrations will be peaceful, while Seattle Mayor Jim Tobin promises that if that be the case that no arrests will be made and no aggressive action, such as the use of tear gas, will be issued. On day one of the conference, tensions on both sides escalate the confrontation between police and protesters, with many innocent people caught in the crossfire. As such, what was promised ends up not happening during the remainder of the conference, where many on both sides work not for the greater good of their side, but rather for their ...Written by
During the movie opening fly-through, Qwest Field appears in the background. Qwest Field wasn't built until a couple of years after the WTO riots. It was built on the grounds of the Kingdome which was there in 1999. See more »
I don't blame you. I mean, I do, but... Shit, you're not the problem. You're just doing your job, i guess. The people I'm really trying to fight are the ones who destroy so much, and they hurt so many lives. Not just one. Literally, millions. And no one ever points a gun at them. You know, they just seem so, unaccountable. Untouchable. Just seems kind of fucked that you're... You and me are the ones that have to fight each other.
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A Special Thanks to AWI and Ben White (who passed away in July of 2005) for the creation of the sea turtle costumes and the coordination of their use in protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle, Washington in 1999. We are indebted to various non-profit organizations and individuals who aided with manufacturing the costumes, and to the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Ben White for creating the idea for the sea turtle costumes. It was AWI's international coordinator, Ben White, who created those costumes and came up with the idea to put hundreds of people in sea turtle costumes on the streets of Seattle. We will miss Ben and his dedication to make the world a better place. See more »
"Labour itself is but a sorrowful song, The protest of the weak against the strong."
Frederick William Faber
As a liberal, I empathize with the protesters in the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. And I do empathize. The need for world organizations and big companies to consider the health of poorer countries before appropriating their resources is paramount.
In Battle in Seattle, director Stuart Townsend uses the stock devices of the docudrama: smoothly inter-cutting between scenes of police and protesters and expertly interspersing authentic footage with the dramatized. The feel is as if the audience is participant; the dilemma of how far either side should go in keeping the peace or disturbing it is palpable.
The drama is enhanced by fictionalizing the opposing forces through the lens of policeman Dale (Woody Harrelson) and his wife, Ella (Charlize Theron), both caught up in the escalating violence and too neatly tied to the issues of each side. The challenges of the protesters are also too deftly tied to a romance of the leader and a follower.
This facile mixing of truth and fiction leaves me a bit cold, as if I were the victim of a fraud because the reality of the historic event seems trivialized by clichéd romances and tragedies. I am always dismayed by the Michael-Moore-style loading of the left to the exclusion of the right's point of view: What are the purposes of the WTO? Has it been successful? How? These questions are rarely explored any more than the complicated motives and lives of the protesters.
But the docudrama succeeds in illuminating the WTO and its critics. As history has written, little progress has been made during the intervening decade even though the talks were stopped in Seattle. But as one of the combatants points out, only by small steps and persistence can the battle be won. And so went the Battle in Seattle.
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