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Vigilante: The Incredible True Story of Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels

The film tells the inspiring story of Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels, a beacon of hope in New York City's darkest times.

Keywords: Curtis Sliwa, Guardian Angels, New York City, 1980s, social justice, community activism, vigilante. Three Words Summary: Inspiring, Powerful, Activism.


'Vigilante: The Incredible True Story of Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels' is a powerful documentary directed by David Wexler, released in 2018. The film explores the remarkable journey of Curtis Sliwa, who transcended race, gender, and social barriers to save New York City during its darkest times in the late 1970s and 1980s. In the current climate of social unrest and activism, this story's relevance is more potent than ever.


The documentary narrates the incredible life story of Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, a non-profit organization aimed at crime prevention. Amidst the despair and lawlessness of New York City in the late 70s and 80s, Sliwa and his team of volunteers stepped up to protect their communities when the law enforcement system was failing them.

More Film Analysis



The documentary is investigative and participatory, offering an in-depth exploration of Sliwa's life, the formation and evolution of the Guardian Angels, and the socio-political climate of New York City during that time. The film's research is comprehensive, its subject exploration deep, and the presentation style is engaging and thought-provoking.

Historical and Factual Context


The late 70s and 80s were a turbulent time in New York City, marked by rising crime rates, economic struggles, and social unrest. The Guardian Angels' formation provided a beacon of hope amidst this chaos, demonstrating the power of community-led initiatives.

Key themes in the film

  • The power of community and volunteerism
  • Social justice and standing up against systemic failure
  • The importance of personal sacrifice for the greater good

Film Comparisons

Unlike other documentaries on iWonder, 'Vigilante' focuses less on systemic analysis and more on individual activism, making it a unique and inspiring watch.

Noteworthy Moments

One impactful moment in the documentary is when Sliwa talks about the risk and personal sacrifices he and his fellow Guardian Angels had to make to maintain peace and order in their communities.


The documentary has received positive reviews for its candid storytelling and the inspiring story it encapsulates. It holds a commendable IMDB score of 7.


'Vigilante' is a must-watch for anyone interested in social justice, community activism, and the power of the individual to make a difference. It offers a unique perspective on a significant part of New York's history and a man who dared to challenge the status quo.

More film information:


  • IMDB Score: 7
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A
  • Metacritic Score: N/A
  • Film Festival Awards: 1 nomination



  • Curtis Sliwa: Founder of the Guardian Angels, radio talk show host, and activist.



  • New York City: The main setting of the documentary, specifically during the late 70s and 80s.

Key Questions Raised by the Film

  • What motivated Curtis Sliwa to form the Guardian Angels?
  • How did the organization impact New York City during its darkest times?
  • What can today's society learn from Sliwa's activism?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be 'To Kill a Mockingbird' because of its themes of standing up against injustice and making a difference.
  2. A famous song, it would be 'Man in the Mirror' by Michael Jackson for its message of making a change.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be Banksy's 'Balloon Girl' - a symbol of hope and taking a stand.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Martin Luther King Jr. for his activism and fight for justice.
  5. A colour, it would be red - symbolizing courage, determination, and passion.
  6. A music style, it would be punk rock for its spirit of rebellion and challenging the status quo.