The story of exploited textile factory workers in Turin, Italy at the turn of the century and their beginnings of their fight for better working conditions. Professor Sinigaglia is sent by (presumably) the Socialists to help them organize their strike and give form to their struggle.
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Great film-Monicelli and Mastroianni at their very best in a drama about labor movement struggle back when it was 60 hours a week in dangerous conditions and workers still didn't earn enough to survive. People like Governor Scott Walker are trying to bring us back to those days by banning collective bargaining. Anyone who is anti-union should watch this. Or if you are pro union.
Monicelli, devout Marxist that he is, once said that he distrusts the idea of hope, since it can lead to false complacency. So credit him for giving this film the perfect balance of hope and hopelessness, a leftist work of art too nuanced to be propaganda but inspiring and passionate nonetheless. Humane, funny, grounded for maximum impact. This may be his masterpiece, the film that brings all of his ideas together.
I can't stop thinking about this movie. Everything about it is gold: the way it is shot, the characters, the subject. Like a Kurosawa film but more realist. Heaps above the rest of the neo-realist movement. Wow.