A good night in
THIS MONTH sees the release of some excellent new videos. Socialist Worker reviews the best of the crop. All are available at most mainstream video shops.
It all starts today
This is an inspirational film by left wing film maker Bertrand Tavernier. Like the films of Ken Loach, It All Starts Today takes as its subject the complexities and conflicts of working class life. It is set in an ex-coalmining town in northern France which has sunk into the depths of poverty. The central character is the headteacher of a small primary school who takes the cares of the world upon his shoulders. The children who flow through the school gates every morning carry with them every social problem imaginable. The local politicians, including the Communist Party mayor, do nothing to help the ordinary people they are supposed to represent. The film is full of tragedy. But the efforts of the headteacher and the resilience, bravery and imagination of the working class community he tries to serve leaves you with a feeling of hope.
The Thin Red Line
THIS IS director Terrence Malick's first film for 20 years. It tells the story of a company of US soldiers during the battle to seize the island of Guadalcanal from the Japanese in the Second World War. Racist stereotyping of Japanese soldiers is common in most films about the war in the Pacific. Malick's film, however, portrays both sides of the battle. We follow the US soldiers as they are ordered into a suicidal assault on a fortified hill. But when we finally come face to face with the Japanese troops we find they are every bit as frightened, shell-shocked and in pain as the US characters. Sergeant Welsh, played by Sean Penn, is offered a Silver Star medal. He turns it down, saying, "This was all about property." The film is long, but it is one of the most powerful condemnations of war you are likely to see.
A GRIM and moving depiction of the uprising in Warsaw of Polish resistance fighters and workers in 1944. Poorly armed and untrained, the resistance fighters held back the Nazis. Neither Britain, Russia nor the US came to their aid. The Nazis began to regain control of the city and ruthlessly put down the uprising. The only way of escape was through the city's sewers. Andrzej Wajda's brilliant film shows the heroic resistance and struggle for liberty. The scenes of the escape through the sewers are spine-chilling and harrowing.
A POWERFUL film about life in a US car factory in the 1970s. The film captures the boredom, defiance and witty humour of three workers played by Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yephet Kotto. They loot their union bosses' safe and uncover some serious corruption.