Harun Farocki - Workers leaving the Factory/Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik (1995)
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Workers Leaving the Factory - such was the title of the first cinema film ever shown in public. For 45 seconds, this stillexistant sequence depicts workers at the photographic products factory in Lyon owned by the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière hurrying, closely packed, out of the shadows of the factory gates and into the afternoon sun. Only here, in departing, are the workers visible as a social group. But where are they going? To a meeting? To the barricades? Or simply home? These questions have preoccupied generations of documentary filmmakers. For the space before the factory gates has always been the scene of social conflicts. And furthermore, this sequence has become an icon of the narrative medium in the history of the cinema. In his documentary essay of the same title, Harun Farocki explores this scene right through the history of film. The result of this effort is a fascinating cinematographic analysis in the medium of cinematography itself, ranging in scope from Chaplin's Modern Times to Fritz Lang's Metropolis to Pier Paolo Pasolini's Accattone!. Farocki's film shows that the Lumière brothers' sequence already carries within itself the germ of a foreseeable social development: the eventual disappearance of this form of industrial labor. (Klaus Gronenborn, Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung, November 21, 1995) The first film ever projected is listed under the title The Workers Leaving the Factory. Chaplin played a worker, and Marilyn Monroe once exited the gate of a fish factory... but the workers' film has not become a main genre in film history. The space in front of the gate is far from being a preferred cinematic location. Most films begin when the work is over. I have collected images from several countries and many decades expressing the idea "exiting the factory", both staged and documentary - as if the the time has come to collect film-sequences, in the way words are brought together in a dictionary.
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Harun Farocki at UBU.
ps. this will probably be the last post, until late august.
at 11:12 AM