Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  93 minutes
Date:  2015
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 10 - 12, College Adults
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
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Captures the generations of eco-activists, from the 1960s to the present day, inspired by Edward Abbey's passionate defense of wilderness in The Monkey Wrench Gang.


From Upton Sinclair's The Jungle to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, American literature has a history of being in the vanguard when it comes to activism about controversial issues. The books of Edward Abbey carry on that tradition, with memoirs like Desert Solitaire and the classic comic novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, taking on the degradation of the American Southwest.

WRENCHED reveals how Edward Abbey's anarchistic spirit and riotous novels influenced and helped guide the nascent environmental movement of the 1970s and '80s. Through interviews, archival footage and re-enactments, the film captures the outrage of Abbey's friends who were the original eco-warriors. In defense of wilderness, these early activists pioneered 'monkeywrenching' - a radical blueprint for 'wrenching the system.' Exemplified by EarthFirst! in the early '80s, direct action and civil disobedience grew in popularity.

WRENCHED captures a new generation of monkeywrenchers who use Abbey's books as a source of inspiration. They are personified by Tim DeChristopher, who single-handedly stopped the sale of 100,000+ acres of public trust lands in southeastern Utah. The fight continues to sustain the last bastion of the American frontier - the spirit of the West. And WRENCHED, following in Abbey's footsteps, asks the question: How far are we willing go in defense of wilderness?

'Very fine...A loving tribute to Edward Abbey's life as an artist and activist as well as a very astute assessment of Earth First!...As is the case in all good documentaries--and this one is about as good as they come--the goal is to force you to think about the issues that are posed.' Louis Proyect, CounterPunch

'Wrenched is a powerful, must-see documentary. It offers viewers not just a portrait of Ed Abbey, but a chorus of voices crying out in the wilderness about the need for more wrenches to be shoved into the cogs of the machines. This movie teaches us about anarchism, eco-sabotage, environmentalism, eco-terrorism, and monkey wrenching, but it also asks us to offer no compromise in defense of Mother Earth.' Sean Prentiss, Assistant Professor of English, Norwich University, Author, Finding Abbey: A Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Grave

'Wrenched is an excellent movie - visually exciting, informative, and perfect for classroom viewings. The movie brings the past into the present, depicting how 'Bidder 70' and other young activists received their inspiration from Abbey and friends. A must-see for all those in environmental studies!' Dr. Janneli F. Miller, Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies, Fort Lewis College

'The public and political legacy of Edward Abbey is one which all students, supporters, and scholars of nature and wilderness should be aware. Without his writing, rhetoric, and wrenching as models of activism, the American environmental movement would be much the poorer. Wrenched is an essential resource for anyone who wants to know what needs to be done.' Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Professor of Politics, University of California-Santa Cruz

'In the years since The Monkey Wrench Gang's publication, many young activists have treated it not as a novel, but as a handbook. ML Lincoln's Wrenched draws a direct line from The Monkey Wrench Gang through Earth First! to the recent heroic actions of Tim DeChristopher. Wrenched is essential viewing for anyone interested in the last forty years of environmental activism and the people, literature, and ideas that fueled it - essential viewing for anyone who loves a landscape enough to defend it.' David Thomas Sumner, Professor of English and Environmental Studies, Linfield College

'A compelling, dynamic account of the rise and transformation of direct-action environmentalism in America. Rich in rare archival footage and animated by engaging interviews with important activists and writers, Wrenched would make a terrific addition to any study of Edward Abbey, radical environmentalism, or the environmental history of the American West.' Michael P. Branch, Professor of English, University of Nevada-Reno, Author, Raising Wild and Rants from the Hill (forthcoming)

'Brimming with informative interviews, vintage film footage, and beautiful images, Wrenched offers a compelling portrait of this famously irascible defender of wild lands. Old fans will recall why they first came to love his work, and new ones may well be inspired to create a more passionate and participatory environmental movement in the present day.' Dr. Brian Allen Drake, Senior Lecturer, Environmental History, University of Georgia, Author, Loving Nature, Fearing the State: Environmentalism and Antigovernment Politics Before Reagan

'An excellent and scenic study of the distinctive radical environmentalism of Ed Abbey and his friends and followers. Perhaps its most valuable contribution is bringing the story up to date. If you haven't heard of Tim DeChristopher, you need to watch this movie; if you have, see it to learn more.' James M. Cahalan, Professor Emeritus of English, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Author, Edward Abbey: A Life

'Prior movements and individual actions, including those chronicled in Wrenched, will help us determine the place and form that our stand can take. This film shares important stories of those who have chosen and continue to choose to take their own.' David Osborn, Earth Island Journal

'Influential...an incredible cast of characters...ML Lincoln captures the outrage of Abbey's friends, the original eco-warriors, through interviews, archival footage and re-enactments...Abbey's message has lived on.' Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch

'Vivid, inspiring and beautiful film...Through the words of Abbey's friends, the stunning footage of the land he loved, and his own unique and curmudgeonly voice, he is brought back to life in this vitally relevant movie. Long live Ed Abbey! Long live Wrenched!' David Gessner, Professor of Creative Writing, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Author, All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West

'Wrenched's filmmakers take a balanced approach to what some would consider violent or radical civil disobedience...The movie doesn't really ask the moviegoer to take a side, but it does provoke thought and suggest actions to be taken, no matter which side of social justice activities you might stand on.' Joanna, Santa Fe Film Festival

'Part history, part documentary, and a call to action, Wrenched is a must-see for any lover of the American Southwest and those who fight to save its beautiful wildness.' Breckenridge Festival of Film

'Wrenched portrays Abbey and friends with ruthless honesty...[The film] makes the most of Abbey's quotes and the dedication his friends have to him and their beloved wilderness. It closed to a standing ovation in Moab.' Janneli Miller, Four Corners Free Press

'An excellent, well-crafted and gut-wrenching documentary.' Diane Sward Rapaport, Author, Home Sweet Jerome, Death and Rebirth of Arizona's Richest Copper City

'This award-winning documentary examines the power of activism...Libraries with strong environmental collections will want to have this on their shelves.' Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community College, School Library Journal


Jury Award, Frozen River Film Festival
People's Choice Award, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival
Best Editing of a Documentary, Santa Fe Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Wild and Scenic Film Festival
Starz Denver Film Festival
St. Louis International Film Festival
Sedona International Film Festival
Telluride Mountainfilm
Port Townsend Film Festival
Breckenridge Festival of Film
Prescott Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival at Nation's Capital
American Conservation Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival at Yale
Sierra Nevada Film Festival
Siskiyou FilmFest
San Francisco Green Film Festival
Black Hills Film Festival
Driftless Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival Melbourne
Olympia Film Society Environmental Film Festival
South African Eco Film Festival
White River Indie Festival
Portland EcoFilm Festival
YES Film Festival


Main credits

Lincoln, M. L. (film producer)
Lincoln, M. L. (film director)
Gambuti, Patrick (film producer)
Gambuti, Patrick (screenwriter)
Gambuti, Patrick (film editor)
Frazier, Kristi (film producer)
Loeffler, Jack (narrator)

Other credits

Original music composed by Andrew Gross; cinematography by Ed George, Bryan Reinhart.

Distributor credits

ML Lincoln, Kristi Frazier, Patrick Gambuti, Jr.

ML Lincoln

ML Lincoln, Kristi Frazier, Patrick Gambuti, Jr.
ML Lincoln
Writer, Editor: Patrick Gambuti, Jr.
Executive Producer: Geralyn Dreyfous
Cinematography: Ed George, Bryan Reinhart
Original Music: Andrew Gross
Narrator: Jack Loeffler
Consulting Producer: Kurt Engfehr
Coordinating Producer: Vicki Day

Docuseek2 subjects

Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
The American West
The 21st Century
American Studies
Anthropology and Archaeology
Politics and Political Science
American (U.S.) Studies

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Civil Disobedience
Climate Change/Global Warming
English Literature
Environmental Ethics
Human Rights
Natural Resources
Political Science
Social Justice
Western US


eco-activists,; Edward Abbey, defense of wilderness, The Monkey Wrench Gang, American literature, activism, controversial issues, Desert Solitaire, anarchism, novels, environmental movement, archival footage, monkeywrenching, eco-warriors, Earth First, direct action, civil disobedience, TimDeChristopher, American frontier, spirit of the West, environmental activism, Ken Sleight, Arches National Park, The Brave Cowboy, Jack Burns, sabotage, Katie lee, Glen Canyoun, Black Mesa, Central Arizona Project, Seldom Seen Smith, Doc Sarvis, Outlaw Trail, oil and gas leases, cracking of Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona 5, Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, terrorism, environmental laws, social justice, Doug Peacock, Charles Bowden, Robert Redford, R. Crumb, Ken Sanders, Craig Rosebraugh, John De Puy, Kieran Suckling, Ingrid Eisenstadter, Paul Watson, Dave Foreman, Terry Tempest Williams, Jack Loeffler, Bob Lippman, Peg Millett, Ilse Asplund, Kim Crumbo, eco-terrorism, eco-sabotage; "Wrenched"; Bullfrog Films

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