Robert Kramer Retrospective:
The Edge

Director: Robert Kramer
USA / 1968 / 102 min

Kramer’s second feature, completed in the spring of 1967 though not released until 1968, focuses on the intersecting lives of 16 members of a militant urban cell, who experience the suffocating isolation that separates the group from dominant society, individuals from each other, and each one from their own internal drives and desires. One of the 16, Danial Rainer (Jack Rader), expresses an irrational urge to assassinate the President. Despite emphatic protest from his friends and knowledge that his plan will stop neither the war in Vietnam nor catalyze support for the Movement’s revolutionary aspirations, Danial’s resolve forces everyone around him to question their commitments to radical action, hastens the organization’s disintegration, and results in his demise. Distinguished by the same claustrophobic paranoia and uncertain political futurity that pervades IceThe Edge was hailed by Cahiers du Cinéma as ushering in a new wave of American political cinema alongside contemporary work by Cassavetes, Clark, and Warhol. Working with Kramer were a who’s-who of New Left organizers, including Bob Machover and Norman Fruchter (who also helmed camera and sound, respectively, on In the Country), Gerald and Connie Long (of SDS and eventually Newsreel and the Venceremos Brigade), and Tom Griffin and Howard “Babeuf” Schulman (both of whom occupy central roles in Ice).