The Year That Trembled

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Written and directed by Jay Craven Based on the novel by Scott Lax Starring Jonathan Brandis, Marin Hinkle, Jonathan Woodward, Fred Willard, Henry Gibson, Martin Mull, Meredith Monroe, Kiera Chaplin, Sean Nelson

Based on the screenplay by Craven, from the novel by Scott Lax, “The Year That Trembled” is a 1970 coming-of-age story, set on the American “homefront” during the Vietnam War. Three teenagers, fresh out of high school and fearful of the impending draft lottery, experience a year that transforms their lives. They find themselves caught up in the anti-war upheaval at Kent State following a guerilla theater action. Later, they meet a young college activist who takes refuge at their summer farmhouse, hoping to sidestep an FBI investigation triggered by the Kent shootings. Next door, a young couple also struggle over war-related complications. She loses her high school teaching job. He launches a civil suit on behalf of the Kent State victims and struggles to decide about military service as he tries to follow in the footsteps of Bobby Kennedy. Confronted by the challenges of the War and the complexities of the counter-culture, no one emerges unscathed. Choices are made; emotional boundaries are transgressed; and innocence is lost.

The overall feeling of the period is just right, and the performances are highly affecting. This is more believable than most depictions of the period because the politics are informed by historical reflection.
– Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader