The story of exploited textile factory workers in Turin, Italy at the turn of the century and their beginnings of their fight for better working conditions. Professor Sinigaglia is sent by (presumably) the Socialists to help them organize their strike and give form to their struggle.
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It’s strangely funny at times, though such dark humor is to be expected from one of the masters of the Commedia all’italiana genre… Most importantly, however, is that the film’s straightforward, pro-labor message isn’t hampered by didacticism. It’s as expressive as it is informative, and its reluctant modernity is challenged only by its clever archaism.
Great film-Monicelli and Mastroianni at their very best in a drama about labor movement struggle back when it was 60 hours a week in dangerous conditions and workers still didn't earn enough to survive. People like Governor Scott Walker are trying to bring us back to those days by banning collective bargaining. Anyone who is anti-union should watch this. Or if you are pro union.
A milestone of political cinema, impressive both in its exuberant cinematography and in the pessimism with which the proletariat's noble struggle for a legal working-day is cunningly and violently ripped into pieces. Monicelli's direction is astoundingly mobile and his camera pans, rather glorious. Addressing all aspects of alienation in labor, it also chides the intellectual's role in fostering class-consciousness.
Monicelli, devout Marxist that he is, once said that he distrusts the idea of hope, since it can lead to false complacency. So credit him for giving this film the perfect balance of hope and hopelessness, a leftist work of art too nuanced to be propaganda but inspiring and passionate nonetheless. Humane, funny, grounded for maximum impact. This may be his masterpiece, the film that brings all of his ideas together.
I can't stop thinking about this movie. Everything about it is gold: the way it is shot, the characters, the subject. Like a Kurosawa film but more realist. Heaps above the rest of the neo-realist movement. Wow.
What a moving story!
Monicelli's Marxist manifest about how should working class and intellectuals work together to form changes and also how life is about struggling in a narrow path between joy and sadness.
I even like it more than other variations about strikes like Salt of the world.