What we are respiring and experiencing is the repercussion of the self-immolation made by many from the past; we might not recognize it, but something we cannot get away with is to be in their place because one thing is definite that sacrifice of today is the convenience to the new humanity. At the same time, many of today’s generation do not acknowledge it. Still, if one looks back to the inspiring reality and rich history resulting from this working freedom, it will make one understand the real merit.
The working people are the spine of building and supporting the most developed country. Today, we comprehend the evidential effect in the guise of fixed hours, equality, fair pay, workplace safety measures, sick days, vacations, and holidays. Cinema as a medium has always helped us edify and experience the history realistically and artistically. A collative result allows us to indicate the hecatomb and endeavor people did to better us. For their courage, handwork, and amalgamation gives a little applause. Here is a list of films that take us to that period related to labor their grapple, unification, and valiance.
The Grapes of Wrath -1940
The families and workers are exploited by organized business most of the time. In the early time, mention in many of the book’s historical events and books was John Steinbeck’s classic novel great depression from which director John Ford took inspiration for the film. It’s a story of Tom Joad (Henry Fonda), newly released from prison, moved to California in search of new life, and work with a family. Who loses all in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl; they find work at the farm that barley helps them survive due to fewer wages. They face the unfairness and greed of the landowners who play them for their benefits. However, Tom fortuitously ends up killing a guard to save his friend Casey, which leads him to leave the family to protect him from the problem.
The film displays the grinding truth of families who shift to different parts in seeking new life and opportunities, giving us a look at the time of that era. The grapple and hardship they made to pull through. The film also provides an essential lesson on munificence; it can come in any shape, even from your own darkest hour. It is the most powerful thing you can give to others.
It received a great response from the audience, and peers earn an academy award of best director for Tom Joab. It manifests us the social differences by giving the uneven working circumstance the migrants’ deals with. How to landholder uses their power to control the supply and demand, so that have to pay low wages to workers.
How Green Was My Valley-1941
The story is about a hard-working Welsh coal-mining family (the Morgans) where they struggle to survive hard times and live in a mining community. A significant conflict occurs, which leads his fellow coal miners in a strike against owners over a forced wage reduction, resulting in near starvation and poverty for the villagers. The youngest son gets admission in national school abandons his education to work in the mines. After a group of miners, including his father, he has a life-changing experience, is stuck in a mine cave-in.
The film is a masterpiece of sentimental human drama, the melodramatic and nostalgic realistic story directed by John Ford. He received the best director and movie academy award.
The film showcases the reality of the workers’ families, there constant struggle to manage the family, and conflicts with owners over the unfairness overpay and safety. It displays how a change of top can impact families and the negation of protection.
Do Bigha Zameen -1953
India is a nation once knows as a farmer’s nation; this 1953 film tells the story of a farmer whose land needs to be taken to create space for industrialization. Shambhu (Balraj Sahni) has a land two bighas (land measurement) that are a part of a more extensive land that the local zamindar (wealthy person) wants to acquire the landlord demands to give away his land for the money Shambhu owes him. When he says no, the zamindar threatens to sell his land.
Balraj Sahni’s performance in this film is authentic as a farmer; the film tells about the past where the wealthy people use to play with farmers as they want, where the poor were getting poorer, and the rich were getting richer and richer. This film gives a great reference to the 40s and 50s ruler India.
Salt of the Earth – 1954
It is famous in film because nearly everyone associated with making, including the crew, were blacklisted by Hollywood as part of the Red Scare of the 1950s. There was a time where mining was an uplifting industry, and they’re working dynamics were different from now. The tale is about a strike of Mexican-American miners in opposition to a zinc mining company. A miner name Ramon Quintero helps strike by uniting others against injustice. Besides, there is an argument between male workers and their wives. When the strike gets instruction that instructs men to stop protesting, they take their place in the standout against the fight.
The story gives multiple narratives on mining worker’s life their tussle with constitution and mining companies. It also talks about race-related and gender equalitarianism and its extreme representation of unification in hostility grievance procedure ploy.
On the Waterfront -1954
On the Waterfront displays a powerful account of union corruption and racketeering. The story is about dock workers struggling for work. They force them to submit to daily wages by brutal appointing bosses. It is under the control of mob labor unions. Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando), a hot-headed guy, favors corrupt and murderous union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). Later he changes his mind and, with the sister of a murdered, fights for the rightness.
It is an unusual choice as it is considered more crime drama. Still, it’s inspired by the real story of the time it showcases the criminal acuity in docks their politics, the mortality of the workers, and the brutality of dock and union leaders. Elia Kazan directed it. It’s among Marlon Brando’s most memorable performances. It’s a rare story, a must-watch.
Namak Haraam -1973
This movie came at a time when textile mills were booming in Mumbai, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, starring Amitabh Bachchan as Vicky and Rajesh Khanna as Sonu. The story is about two friends Vicky and Sonu, and how they showcase their emotions on class split-up. Vicky is embarrassed by his factory’s union leader, which makes him quite work; Sonu joins them as a worker and soon takes the union leader’s place. He eventually empathizes with the difficulty of the workers and starts to believe in their ideals. That causes trouble between their friendships.
The film shows the realistic take on that ear and union policies.
Johnny Kovak (Sylvester Stallone) works in a depository and gets overtired of the workplace’s unfair policies, which leads him to start a riot. This results in him being fired, but his spirit wins him the admiration of his surroundings. Which lead him turns into a recruit for a labor union known as the Federation of Interstate Truckers (F.I.S.T). As the association grows and becomes more strapping, his influence extends, and eventually, his aspiration results in a partnership with gangsters, which brings trouble to him and how he deals with me.
One of the finest scenes is where Stallone, in a podium, encourages the followers to exhibit their unity by acting as “one fist,” reminding the membership to fill the hall with the booming vroom of the- “One, one fist.
The film gives away a message on unionism, wrong aspiration, and the negative impact of domination; it’s one of the movies you indeed have not noticed.
Kaala Patthar -1979
One of the best collaboration between the late Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan. The film story is inspired by the Chasnala coal mining disaster, where Amitabh plays Vijay, a coal miner respected among peers hiding his past where he was a disgraced ex-merchant navy officer. While safety is a big issue at plants, the new manager Ravi ( Sashi Kapoor ), decides to take the side of workers, one day, an accident happens in mine while workers are inside, including Vijay and Mangal (Shatrughan Sinha) how they deal with the situation is film about.
The film not only shows us the excellent direction and acting of the cast, but it’s deal with the real issue like the greed of owners, how they are blindsided when it’s come to the safety of the workers, it’s a must-watch in case you have not seen it.
Norma Rae -1979
The film takes a North Carolina cotton-mill, where mill-worker pays are hardly proportional to the long hours, and they are working in awful conditions. As a result of an inspiring speech by a labor activist played, a female worker named Norma Rae gets motivated. She unites fellow workers and decides to stand against the issues they face with millwork. The result of it upset her family and provokes the mill owner.
The story inspires from the event on the life of Crystal Lee Sutton, directed by Martin Ritt. Sally Field, in a leading role of Norma Rae, the story not only shares its notion on despotism but also shows the different aspects of unionization. It envelops these aspects, and critical subjects like women empowerment power one hold to change the system while telling a compelling story.
Aghaat – 1985
A film not many have heard of is1985 Govind Nihalani film starting Om Puri in union leader Madhav Verma. While Madhav has the majority support of the employees in an organization, but he also has the rival Rustom Patel (Naseeruddin Shah). They wish to break his union and build one for him. An accident happens when one worker loses his legs in an accident; other associations started taking advantage of it by talking to workers. This put Madhav in between his ethics and the violence the situation may cause.
The story is one of that is a fine example of realistic cinema. That closely examines the politics of trade unions and how they get used as a tool.
Matewan – 1987
The film is a true story of Matewan, a small coal town located in West Virginia, which was a great clash between striking miners and owners in the 1920s. Quixotic Organizer Joe Keenan (Chris Cooper) and the sheriff of Mingo County decide to support a town’s inhabitants and help those uniting white, African American workers. Appalachia-born and immigrant. The incident was a focal instant in beginning coal miners urging patience in the coal company’s violent provocations.
Director John Sayles pays close view to accredit of the place portrait the harsh reality of the time. It’s a debut film of Chris Cooper where he plays the role of Joe, a union organizer who takes stand against hickey (Kevin Tighe), who is negative.
The film is an essential part of the mining history, which we often don’t focus on; it gives you incite on coal-mining in the early era of America, people who stand against their unity. It also looks at how a change can impact the small towns and treatment the migrants obtain.
Silkwood – 1983
A powerful and influential true story of Karen Silkwood is a union worker in a plutonium pellet plant that discovers risky work conditions. When she investigates, she finds out the secrets of plants their carelessness for the workers. She gets radiance as a reaction. She finds all the evidence of her allegations dies of a car crash the day of meeting with the reporter.
The story showcases the side of plants where work conditions are tricky, and life is at stake. How the importance of workers’ lives gets negated, and how upper people can harm one to protect their dirty secrets.
Jimmy Hoffa is one of the critical people from 1950 to 1970 in union politics. This 1992 film showcases both the prime and low part of his life .from being a wildly popular supported head of the Teamsters Union to the hard part where he faces the allegations on corruption and hand with the mafia his sudden disappearance.
The film is vital as Jimmy Hoffa, a mighty union controller and activists of that time; Jack Nicholson plays his role; the story shows the union politics of that time how they have not only cunned the workers but play with their trust also used them pawn for the benefits of their leaders.
9 to 5′ (1980)
9 to 5′ is the story of three aspiring working women Violet, Judy, and Doralee. They all work at a firm; their boss is Franklin Hart, sexist, lustful, and imperious. Violet has worked hard for many years but never get the senior supervisor status. Judy is inexperienced newly joined. Doralee is ostracized from the other female workers after a lousy encounter separately the three women unite in their hatred of their boss, and even though how they can kill the boss and they kidnap the boos as he blackmails them now they are in this mess how they get over it is story follows.
It’s one of the 100 funniest movies ever made by the American Film. It starts Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, written by Patricia Resnick and Colin Higgins and directed by Colin Higgins. The film delivers the great laugh but does not shy away from showing the sexism at the workplace and how it impacts the worker’s mental state, how people from top try to take advantage of people in need, and the courage one needs to fight on it.
Human Resources – 1999
This French film is a story of Frank, a new business school graduate heading back to his home to join where his father works. As he gets involved in work, he unfolds the top management’s secret, which they use against the workers for their benefits; he finds out there manipulative and wrong tactics. He decides to take a stand with the workers that leads him problem leadership but in front of his father.
This film talks loud on the issues of top management of their manipulative tricks to stratagem the employee. It also shows how one has to keep the inner- soul alive against the erroneous—the film talks on the ethics of work enlivenment and domestic politics.
Up in the Air- 2009
The film is based on the book, the same name, starring George colony as Ryan Bingham, whose job is to travel around the country to fire people on behalf of the companies who don’t want to face the employees’ heat. His boss, Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman), has complete faith in getting the job done. He mostly spends time traveling, while meeting a newly joined recruit, he trains her and how it impacts his personal life is the film is about.
It’s one of the finest films which talk about multiple things; it shows how corporate work where they can hire someone else to do their dirty work, talk about men who are so much in work that they don’t know how its feel to be home. When they feel the emotion of how it impacts their mindset, it’s not a directly linked film to labor, but it deals with what the new generations face their personal life and the everyday life they forget in search of bright corporate lights.
The company men – 2010
The film talks more about working conditions of modern, story of an employee at shipping and manufacturing firm Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), a start performer who doesn’t look back. He is liked by management and coworkers. Where his company goes through some rough period, they started firing that included him and two of his colleagues.
The film gives a realistic look at how tough time at an organization can impact the employees. The hard time it brings to their family and mental health. It is a blunt truth about how unemployment can demolish dreams and hope of a person.
Union leader – 2017
This film came in a story of a chemical plant worker, jay, with big dreams, but he started working due to family. While working as an employee at a chemical plant, he is treated poorly and not getting fair wages; after it, he decides to stand against it and his co-workers one day. At the same time, he is fighting for his right things as it is not well, his son doesn’t respect him, and his wife is not in his support .how he deals with the battle of outside and inside is the film.
It’s one of the films which sadly, not many people have seen. It has an incredible performance of underappreciated actor Rahul Bhat. The movie shows very closely the life of the workers and the consequences they face of their actions.
Without labor nothing prospers.” – Sophocles
Hope you will like the list do let us know in comments if we have missed out on any film.