Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

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Copyright: Netflix

There’s a shocking divide in how we treat individuals with disabilities. Even now, when it feels that we’ve veered closer to equality, documentaries, recent events and debate offer up the principle that progress is slow for those that need it most desperately. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution takes pockets of footage from the 1960s to the 1980s and details the uphill struggle many activists had in the face of Republican governments whilst attempting to acquire rights for the mentally and physically disabled. 

Various talking heads are assembled throughout, most echoing the same disbelief at being sidelined by the mainstream system, providing a great insight for those looking to educate themselves on a subject that they may not know all that much about. Touching moments are provided by archival footage and interviews with those who experienced the camp as they discuss how it helped them. Frankly, I was blind to the issues this documentary picks apart, so this was, by all means, an educational piece for me.  

Although this archival footage provides much of the basis for the information provided, there isn’t all that much on offer outside of these moments. A lovely exploration of a little pocket of happiness, a place where good deeds had become the norm, Camp Jeded is detailed with such fondness by both its participants and its councillors. The 60s setting of the camp leads to some inevitable messages of political resurgence, flower power, and everything else you’d come to expect. It feels a bit rough around the edges, definitely relevant but not quite formed enough to link naturally back to Jeded, the people that worked there or the people that needed their help. 

We soon leave the camp though, following those that depart the camp and their activism throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Instrumental in protesting and demonstrating for their rights, it’s one of many examples of how protesting can lead to significant change, something many are too quick to forget. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is fully intent on showing how change can be made through protest, pressure and placement, keeping their voices heard throughout a sea of those looking to put them down. It’s rather inspirational, which is a feeling captured very nicely by the documentary.  

A disconnect many ordinary members of society have with afflicting emotion onto people they see no more as wheelchairs or objects is highlighted in frightful detail. It’s a horrible detail, one that the documentary doesn’t explore as much as I would have thought, but it’s more than enough to paint the picture of just how horribly people can and will act in the face of necessary change. Skittering around the edges of some of the more interesting parts, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution has trouble with its pacing from time to time. 

Not just a fascinating exploration of a camp tailor-made to bring together a sense of community between wrongly outcast individuals, this Netflix original brings with it a touch of enlightening detail into how certain countries treat their disabled citizens. Highlighting the various obstacles those with disabilities struggled to overcome from both a political and personal view, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is a well-made, conventional documentary that details a story of incredible importance.