A conscientious factory worker gets his finger cut off by a machine. Although the physical handicap is not serious, the accident causes him to become more involved in political and revolutionary groups.
Lulù is a real hard worker. For this reason he is loved by the masters and hated by his own colleagues. The unions decide agitations against the masters. Lulù doesn't agree till he cuts, by accident, one of his own fingers. Now, after he understood the worker's conditions, he agrees the unions and participates to the strike. He immediately is fired and, not only is abandoned by his lover, but also by the other workers. But the fights of the unions allow him under a new legislation to be hired again. At this point his mind starts giving collapse signs... Written by
Elio Petri's "La classe operaia va in paradiso" shows a very subtle cameo of Ennio Morricone, who also composed the original score of this film, awarded with a Palme d'or in the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. The Italian Maestro appears in close up for almost one minute as the anonymous-and obviously uncredited-blue collar who actions the cart, with both hands up and down, at the end of the assembly line in the factory. His repeated gesture immediately activates the "mechanical" music announcing the end titles. See more »
I supported the task-work. Followed the politics of the union. I worked for productivity and I was working, and keeping with the production. And now I transformed myself into a beast, a beast, a real beast! And the students say we are like machines... they say that I'm a machine, a pulley, a screw, a piston rod, a transmission belt, they say that I'm a pump, a broken pump and there's no way to repair that pump. I suggest to stop working right now. All. And who does not stop to work right now is...
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The Working Class Goes To Heaven (Elio Petri, 1971) ***
The Spirit of Social Justice of the May '68 uprisings is still very much alive in this heavy-going but compelling parable of the rise and fall in the fortunes of an Italian factory worker dubbed Lulu (Gian Maria Volonte'): starting out as the Boss' darling for being the exemplary employee and pacesetter of the company, the loathing of his co-workers (who despise him for how his excessive zeal makes their own lackluster performance look bad in the eyes of the manager) and his female companion Mariangela Melato (who never gets any piece of the action at night because of his constant fatigue) eventually gets to him one day with the result that he loses his concentration at work and suffers the loss of a finger in an accident. This changes his whole outlook on life as he becomes engrossed in an extremist workers' union, finally makes love in his car to a virginal female co-worker/union member he is obsessed with, is quitted by his consumerist hairdresser companion and his surrogate son and, when he is given the sack at work and is on the point of selling off his belongings, another more moderate workers' union comes to his aid by winning him his old job back. Although there is obviously much footage here of socio-political discussions, scenes of picketing and police riots, confrontations between diverse unions, etc., the film also has that winning whimsical streak promised by its title and exemplified by amusing episodes in a mental institution (where Volonte' visits his cracked-up ex-colleague Salvo Randone), the quasi-surreal sequence of Volonte' taking it out on all his useless possessions (including a giant inflatable doll of Scrooge McDuck!), and the concluding description at the assembly line of the titular incident itself which Volonte' had in a dream the previous night. Ennio Morricone's inventively 'metallic' music underscores the robotic gestures of the factory workers who, despite slaving eight hours a day at their machines, are not even aware what becomes of the parts they produce! While the film may seem overdone and dated in today's apathetic age, it clearly hit a nerve at the time of its release winning a handful of international awards including the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
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