Followers of my posts here will recall that among these are a couple of articles where I compare and contrast certain actors. One in particular comes to mind as I seek to update readers on what has me plagues with inactivity. It seems that I have come to find some semblance of connective tissue in my concerns. In the posted entitled One's Copper One's Strathairn: No Leading Man In that posts, I referenced a role David Strathairn played in Matwan.
Matewan relies on a historical occurrence where lives were lost . Its known that the labor wars between coal miners and their ruthless employers In the United States was long and bloody. For actors young in their profession, it was a daring move to portray men who actually helped start that war. In Matewan, David Strathairn takes on the role of sheriff Sid Hatfield.
While researching further into the labor issues of the early 20th century have not abated, I did not expect them to cross over into our current times where we have a socialist Democrat Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders seeking the Democratic nomination for president. I found the media somewhat dismiss of the guys chances. While I find this to be slightly propagandist in itself, that is to paint a socialist as a lunatic, I began to fathom working this into a post. I watched the recent Sandra Bullock movie OUR BRAND IS CRISIS but sadly found no inspiration there.
Somewhere along the way I remembered another historical footnote of a labor crisis. This one had happened in Colorado. It resurfaced while I was watching an experimental art film entitled Oblivion made by the Finnish artist film maker Marjo Levlin. In that short film Levlin posits questions about her ancestors who traveled from Finland to the United States. Using found objects, stills and poetry she traces the lives...even postulating that some might have ended in labor camps like foreigners who died at Ludlow. I was moved then as I am now to trace keep track of how relevant labor, socialism and cinema resonate in our lives. It was this desire that lead me perpetually stumble upon Eugene V, Debs. Debs ran for president three times. He was a brilliant orator and passionate about social justice.
I needed more features in cinema.... movies to pull me back into something I could use on movie pilot. Even if it were to be newsreels and documentary films to ignite the passion I felt for social justice and for Bernie Sanders' campaign speeches. I wanted to know if and when socialism became a bad word in The United States. Then I found this passage linking both Debbs and The Ludlow Massacre together.
In 1914, in Ludlow, Colorado, in a particularly vicious battle between one of the Rockefeller properties and the Western Federation of Miners, the state militia machine-gunned picketers’ tents without warning, killing several women and children. Debs, who was in full-stride against the war, did not hesitate to take up the miners’ cause. In an article in the International Socialist Review, he urged the miners to raise a “Gunmen Defense Fund,” “sufficient to provide each member with the latest high-power rifle, the same used by corporation gunmen, and 500 rounds of cartridges.”
Debs was clear about which war he was prepared to fight: “I am not a capitalist soldier; I am a proletarian revolutionist…. I am opposed to every war but one; I am for that war with heart and soul, and this the world-wide war of the social revolution.”
My heart was both racing and my mind was at peace. I knew then that what I had suspected in the snide remarks buried in all the newspapers I read on Bernie Sanders came from within. I now needed to find more cinematic feature presentations that allowed audiences to weigh the difference between capitalism and socialism,. If not that cinema that would at least educated me on how to discern propaganda from patriotism.
I stated with ON THE WATERFRONT. I had always heard that this classic starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, and Rod Stieger focused on the mob and unions. II knew it was made by a man who sought to redeem himself from his testimonies before House Un-American Activities Committee. Oddly, I find this quest as fascinating as I did while researching for my other posts but this one weaves into real concerns and out again into fictional accounts of real subject matters.
I hope I do not tarry too long i digging around in the annals of labor history. I beg my followers for forgiveness for these indulgences.