In myriad ways, 1964 was the year when people began to take sides, when the comfortable consensus that had ruled the country since the New Deal began to disintegrate, and when the future of the nation was fiercely and passionately debated. 1964 will tell the story of the momentous choices faced by Americans during that year: between the liberalism of Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater’s grass-roots conservatism, between support or opposition to the civil rights movement, between an embrace of the emerging counter-culture or a defense of traditional values.
In addition to the historical narratives that dominated the headlines – the presidential campaign, Freedom Summer, rioting in America’s cities, The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, to name just a few – the film also explores the seismic cultural shifts that first appeared in 1964, from the invasion of the Beatles, the sudden ascendance of Muhammad Ali, the debut of the Ford Mustang, and the publication of The Feminine Mystique. A half-century later, the events and echoes of change from 1964 are still reverberating through the nation, from the deeply partisan divide in our politics, to the multicultural fabric of our culture, to the unsettled tensions over race and gender that define our society. 1964 was where, for better or worse, the outlines of the America we live in began to be visible.