'The Weaver' is German agitprop. I get the impression that this film purports to depict actual events, but my limited knowledge of German history prevents me from verifying this. The film appears to take place in roughly the same period as the Luddite uprising in England, or possibly the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
The weavers have always made their cloth by hand, but now the steam-driven looms threaten to automate the process. Of course, we get the usual rubbish (in the intertitles) asserting that machine-made cloth is inferior to the hand-made stuff. Wilhelm Dieterle gives a good performance as the nominal hero: a former weaver who has become a captain in one of the Emperor's best regiments, but who is now emboldened to rejoin the weavers and to lead their families in a revolt against the machines. Dieterle's later (well-deserved) success as director William Dieterle has unfairly eclipsed his early promise as an actor.
The weavers sabotage the looms; eventually, some of the looms are destroyed. With the nation's textile industry threatened, Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm calls out the troops. The weavers stand up to them, in a climax that might have been exciting if it hadn't reminded me of a bad imitation of the climax of Eisenstein's 'Battleship Potemkin'. When several of the weavers are shot dead, their wives step into the breach. The women triumph where their husbands failed, simply because the soldiers daren't shoot women.
Paul Wegener is cast as Dreissiger, the wealthy skinflint owner of the cotton mill who exploits his starving weavers. In this role, Wegener gives the stiffest and most mannered performance I've ever seen from him. Ironically, his portrayal of the Golem was less stiff and more human than the performance he offers here. I'm passionately interested in German films of this period, so I'll rate this stiff, stolid, sententious, slow and boring movie 2 points out of 10 ... which is probably one more point than it deserves.
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