The whole crew is a bit overwhelmed this week, Dan is sick, John’s class is in crunch mode, and Lina’s putting the finishing touches on the rest of the Military Unions series. So this week we’re unlocking one of our favorite Movie Time episodes for everyone. Both these labor movies are likely less well known by most of our audience, but they’re some of the best we’ve discussed. Part 2 of our series on attempts to organize in the military will arrive next week.
First we discuss 1963’s The Organizer, a working class drama about the early days of labor organizing in northern Italy in the late 1800s. The film covers the extreme exploitation of 19th century textile workers and their earliest attempts at organizing, even before major national unions existed. For our second film this week we watched Western Ghats (Merku Thodarchi Malai), from India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. Western Ghats follows the struggle of landless workers forced to labor for the big landowners as they strive to become independent peasant farmers themselves. The film portrays the difficulties of peasants, the way debt is used to dispossess them, and the semi feudal conditions they face in many parts of the Global South in ways western cinema rarely covers.
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