Milan, august 2009. Four workers climb a 20 meters high gantry crane inside the hangar of the INNSE, the last active factory in Milan. They threaten to throw themselves down to stop the ...
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Milan, august 2009. Four workers climb a 20 meters high gantry crane inside the hangar of the INNSE, the last active factory in Milan. They threaten to throw themselves down to stop the dismantling of the machineries and the closure of the factory they work in. The hangar is surrounded by dozens of policemen and supporters from all over Italy. It is not a simple struggle. They have a clear strategy. They have an organized army. They know perfectly their territory and their enemy. There are clear rules, it is a war with a workable paradigm for all forms of struggle.Written by
On the art of war
The Italian film Dell'arte della guerra (2012) was shown in the U.S. as "On the Art of War." The film was co-written and co-directed by Luca Bellino and Silvia Luzi. In August, 2009, the owner of a factory has begun dismantling it. The factory is profitable, but the owner believes that he can make more money by selling the machinery and using the land to build apartment houses. The workers had taken over the factory, and it had continued to make a profit. However, eventually they were forced out by the police.
Four workers, who knew every inch of the factory, got inside, and went up in a gantry crane high above the factory floor. They said they would stay there until the factory was again operating. (Note that the movie's publicity said that they planned to jump to their death if the police tried to forcibly remove them. I'm not sure about whether that statement was ever in the movie. Maybe it was there and I missed it, or it wasn't in the subtitles, or it was simply understood by everyone.)
The courageous men were in a terrible physical situation--hardly room to move, and high up near the factory roof, with heat making their lives miserable. However, they persisted, and, apparently, no one ever suggested going back down.
The strength of the film is that, after their struggle was over, each man told us why he did what he did, and what was going through his mind when he was up in the crane. The leader tells us that labor struggles are war. Some wars have to be won, not negotiated. As he puts it, How can you negotiate the closing of a factory? Once you begin negotiations, you've lost already, because you've accepted that the factory will be closed. All you can negotiate is getting a few more benefits, but you've lost. (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the message.)
The weakness of the film is that we never actually get a good shot of the men in the crane. They take selfies with a cellphone, and we get glimpses of those on a larger screen outside the factory. An entire town of tents is set up outside the factory gates, and we see quite a bit of those people. (Although each tent has a banner, it doesn't tell you anything if you don't speak Italian.)
So, this is an unusual film, where the main event--the men in the crane--isn't there. We hear them speaking after the event, and we see video coverage that must have galvanized the nation when they realized what these brave workers were doing. We also see the supporters who gathered around to maintain a presence at the factory. It's not what you'd expect, but I enjoyed the film with its non-typical structure.
We saw this film in the excellent Dryden Theatre in the George Eastman Museum. It was screened as part of the wonderful Rochester Labor Film Series. It will work on a small screen.
For the record, the four workers in the crane were: Vincenzo Acerenza, Fabio Bottaferla, Luigi Esposito, and Massimo Merlo.
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