American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I suppose there is no imagining, unless you were alive at the time, what an incredible shock wave the case of Sacco and Vanzetti created in the 1920s. There are some contemporary newsreels in "Sacco and Vanzetti" that give us some notion of the passionate demonstrations held all over the world on their behalf.
And the degree to which their names became part of the common currency is reflected in Daniel Curley's classic and often anthologized "Saccovanzetti," in which a group of children play a game of stick-up and the youngest is told he must be Saccovanzetti. The names have become one word, just as their trial became a symbol to be hurled by the right at the left, and then back again.
The misfortune of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, I guess, was that they were anarchists. That made them juicy, stereotyped bomb-throwers for the government's Red Squads - but it also made them distasteful to the Communists themselves, who were to demonstrate in Spain a decade later that they'd rather shoot anarchists than fascists. Sacco and Vanzetti, trapped in the middle, were sane and eloquent in their demands for justice, while political sloganeering obscured their case on every side.
The new film "Sacco and Vanzetti" keeps us close by their side as they're marched through an elaborate miscarriage of justice. The film's style forces us to see the farce through their eyes (sometimes literally, as when an old-fashioned point-of-view shot is used to show Sacco's arms being strapped into the electric chair as he would have seen them himself.) We are somehow more involved than with "Z."