Tuesday, October 25, 2011
disarray/do they even still exist?, how wonderful to have AN INJURY TO ONE, that fine, 53-minute documentary from Travis Wilkerson, finally available on DVD -- and in a form that the general public, should it be at all interested, can finally sample. Available now from Icarus Films for sale at the relatively reasonable price of $25 (up until now, it had been available only to institutions at a price of nearly $400), Icarus has remastered the film for its new DVD release. Neither Netflix nor Blockbuster appears to have ordered the movie (no surprise: it's very progressive), so rental would seem to be off the menu. Maybe some enterprising company will work out a streaming option.
The film begins with this preamble: "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, and the few who make up the employing class enjoy all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system and live in harmony with the earth." Ah, yes: Good luck -- as much now, as back in the times that the film so well presents.
Film Comment) the anti-Ken Burns, and it's easy to understand why. He packs in immense amounts of information -- so much that you may want to watch the film again, immediately after you've seen it -- in such a short time that it can leave you reeling. Even so, I question his use of those intertitles, at least in the manner that he has chosen to do it. That preamble mentioned above seems to go on and on because Wilkerson likes to show just a word or two or three in a single frame. Does he imagine that we will retain the message better than we would if he handed us, say, half a sentence at a time? I don't think we do, and so this becomes some kind of unnecessary "artiness."
Otherwise, the film is exemplary in the way it weaves everything from Anaconda copper and World War One to Dashiel Hammet's Pinkerton experience, Lillian Hellman and the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s (what we learn here about Joe McCarthy should surprise some people: shades of Ronald Reagan's early "liberal" days!) to the environmental disaster that the town of Butte and its surroundings have today become.
Werner Herzog's albino alligators). No: this dark history has already spoken -- sadly, savagely, brilliantly -- for itself.
An Injury to One "streets" today, Tuesday, October 25. Progressives, documentary lovers, and fans of accessible experimental film should not miss it.