Sunday, December 3, 2017


Last night's DVR selection was Sergey Eisenstein's Strike, which is available in multiple DVD releases, if you can filter correctly. (The TCM Shop page only lists one movie under "Foreign - Russian", but three if you search on Strike and Eisenstein.)

Sometime in late Tsarist Russia, there's a factory where the workers aren't particularly happy, although to be fair that's a common thing for workers everywhere. Norman Wisdom was a huge star in Communist Albania for his British workplace movies which the Albanian regime apparently thought were a biting commentary on capitalist exploitation. Anyhow, somebody sets a cat among the pigeons by stealing one of the workers' micrometers, which actually belongs to the company so the worker would have to pay three weeks' wages to replace it. The workers decide to go on strike.

The factory owners, unsurprisingly, are depicted as fat cats: literally fat, but not literally cats. They don't care about the workers' demands, and they certainly don't care about what the strike is doing to the workers. The workers were already in poverty before, but now it's to the point that they don't even have enough to eat.

All that having been said, there's not much of a story here, and the characters are cardboard cutouts, with the strike ringleaders being called by nicknames like "Owl" and "Fox". Strike is a movie you watch for the images, and already at this early stage Eisenstein shows he had a promising talent with the camera. There are a lot of lovely tracking shots and some interesting angles at points. Just don't expect much more than the camerawork. Not that it's a bad movie; it's more of an archetype than anything else.

Strike is a movie that I'd certainly recommend watching once, although it's another one that I wouldn't spend the pricey foreign film DVD prices that we get charged here in the States. Note that one of the DVDs listed at the TCM Shop lists an 82-minute run time while another lists 94 minutes; the Amazon listing is 88 minutes. TCM ran it in a 90-minute slot and I think it was an 82-minute version. I don't know how much of the different running times is due to different frame rates and if any is due to other things; the TCM print included a brief mention that this was Eisenstein's first film and that it was a 1969 restoration.

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