I return from my Thanksgiving vacation to watch the most American of films from the most American of filmmakers. The next film on our list is Strike (or Stachka, for the commie bastard segment of my audience). It's the first full length film of Sergei Eisenstein, a revolutionary Soviet filmmaker responsible for what we pretentious film historians refer to as the Soviet Montage.
At a Russian factory, rumors of an impending strike run rampant. The workers are on the verge of revolting, but the straw that breaks the camel's back is the suicide of a factory worker accused of theft. The order is given to stop working, and the strikers run madly through the complex. They stick it to the man pretty hard.
Only then they actually have to live with the side effects of a strike, where they're all depressed and poor and, you know, not working. So the strike drags on, the strikers send in a list of demands, the factory bosses refuse the demands, all pretty much par for the course. The bosses decide on some more extreme measures to get the strikers back in line, and end up beating the crap out of them all. This is why the czarist elite is horrible and nasty, while the humble Russian worker is good and pure. I see no Communist propaganda at all.
- I like the silhouetted workers running around whispering to one another. It's very visually dynamic.
- Why do all these people along the chain of command have two separate phone lines? If they're hanging up the first line anyway, the second line is a bit redundant, yeah?
- It is taking every ounce of my willpower not to crack any "In Soviet Russia" jokes. You're welcome.
- I like the shots of the animals overlapping with the spies that have corresponding code names. And I am amused by how well the men match up with their animals. Especially the Fox.
- Lulz at the workers trying to look all casual while discussing their strike plans. But holy hell that is one revolting bathroom! I'd really like to avoid thinking about what those shit-colored stains on the walls are, but...well, I think that ship has sailed.
- In Soviet Russia, factory strikes you! OK look I'm sorry it had to happen!
- Why hello random baby animals. Were you looking for the movie Babe? I think you took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
- I'm shocked and impressed by how many people Eisenstein was able to pack into this movie. It really broadens the scope of the strike. Also...is it wrong of me to think that maybe he was handing out bread and milk in exchange for extra work?
- Love the four bosses sitting around in a circle, smoking cigars, reading the demands of the workers as huge puffs of smoke float up to the ceiling. Very menacing.
- The image of the strike breakers on horseback juxtaposed with the boss squishing an orange to get juice is really smart filmmaking. And seeing this days after watching protesters get pepper sprayed in the face gives it an added emotional resonance.
- "Food Store Closed For Repairs." Only in Russia.
- It's interesting that they show the depression and family conflicts that inevitably occur when a strike drags on.
- "The tobacco pouch is empty," a title card says. The tobacco pouch is empty?!?!?!
- What the --? Did the rich people seriously hire little people to dance on their table? Holy Perfect Example of Why People Hate You and Are Striking, Batman!
- OMG why are there dead cats randomly hanging from ropes? No me gusta. No me gusta at all.
- I like the shot where the mug shot comes to life. That's pretty snazzy for 1925.
- Is it just me, or does the scene where they're hiding out in barrels look a lot like one giant game of Whack A Mole?
- Lulz at the leader asking for five unscrupulous men - and everyone volunteers.
- OK, I would have really loved it if I didn't have to watch a poor defenseless cow get gutted on camera. I don't even care that it works really well with the images of the strikers getting brutalized. It's yucky.