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Great films about work

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Looking for great films significantly preoccupied with depicting people at work or people as workers -- all kinds of work. Depictions can include dehumanizing or oppressive circumstances, but fundamentally the goodness and dignity of labor should be in view -- ideally seen in some way, at least implicitly, through a Christian cultural lens.

Great examples include:

  • Le Fils (2002)
  • How Green Was My Valley (1941)
  • Modern Times (1936)
  • The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)

These examples are basically concerned with manual labor and domestic work, but I'd be interested in examples depicting all kinds of work. (Not to say I wouldn't also want more films just like the ones above.)

Thoughts?

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Looking for great films significantly preoccupied with depicting people at work or people as workers -- all kinds of work. Depictions can include dehumanizing or oppressive circumstances, but fundamentally the goodness and dignity of labor should be in view -- ideally seen in some way, at least implicitly, through a Christian cultural lens.

Great examples include:

  • Le Fils (2002)
  • How Green Was My Valley (1941)
  • Modern Times (1936)
  • The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)

These examples are basically concerned with manual labor and domestic work, but I'd be interested in examples depicting all kinds of work. (Not to say I wouldn't also want more films just like the ones above.)

Thoughts?

Some films that come to mind (that may work in part):

The Big Kahuna

9 to 5

Jerry Maguire

ETA: Tucker (1987)

Hudsucker Proxy

The Apartment ??

Up In The Air

Edited by Nick Alexander

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Hmmm. First thing that came to mind were some boxing movies: Rocky, MDB, The Fighter... Does On the Waterfront qualify as a boxing flick? I think sports films in general may lean this way.

Non-sports films:

Norma Rae

Bread and Roses

Matewan

Wall Street

Silkwood

The Insider

Thank You for Smoking

The Full Monty


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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The Navigators

Alamar is pretty much structured around their work routine.

Mac

The Big Kahuna


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Some good suggestions here, everyone. I especially like Darrel's list.

I'm surprised to see The Big Kahuna crop up in both Nick and Mike's lists. I remember that film primarily for its notion that human transactions, including the particular transaction called evangelization or proselytizing, can devolve into a form of working interaction, salesmanship. I don't remember it as notably work-positive, although perhaps it is.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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We had a thread recently about films about business, so that might have some good titles on it too. But I can't seem to find it at the moment...

UPDATE: Ahh, here it is.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'm especially pleased with Darrel's suggestions of Norma Rae and Silkwood -- and Gina's intriguing suggestion of His Girl Friday, though being a contrarian skeptic on that film I'm not sure I agree -- because I don't want the focus to be all on sweaty guys. I want to highlight women at work too -- both in the workplace and in the home. That's one thing I love about The Tree of Wooden Clogs: It really celebrates the whole community at work, men, women, children. Any more women at work films? Including women working in the home films?

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldworthy Working in Time

(and many other films in our thread on films about artists)

Art is definitely in a different category, but thanks for making the point.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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The Apartment . . . oh shoot, Nick Alexander beat me to it. :)

The original Cheaper by the Dozen (working in and out of the home)

Sweet Smell of Success

And how about The Remains of the Day? The employer/employee relationship may have a damaging lack of boundaries, but it's still an employment situation.

Isn't there a movie about Pierre and Marie Curie working together? With Greer Garson, I think?

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Isn't there a movie about Pierre and Marie Curie working together? With Greer Garson, I think?

Yep, just called Madame Curie (1943) ... which reminds me, that one, along with The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) and Edison, the Man (1940) could all be said to be films that celebrate people who were passionate about hard work.

Edited by Persiflage

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I love this topic.

Sweetgrass

La Libertad

Salesman

The Long Gray Line

35 Shots of Rum

My Life to Live

Fast Food Nation

Counsellor at Law

Slacker

The 7 Up series

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

The Last Detail

Still Life

And pretty much any film by Frederick Wiseman

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Executive Suite

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

I haven't yet seen either all the way through, but I think they fit the bill.

Oh, and how about Desk Set?

Edited by Gina

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Primer, Days of Heaven and Munyurangabo.

Edited by Russ

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The Hudsucker Proxy

You know... for kids!


Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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I once read a review for United 93 praising it for, among many other things, doing an amazing job of depicting people in their everyday work mode (air traffic controllers, stewardesses, military personnel). When I watched this a second time last fall, I was able to see that this is true.

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Secretary.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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You know, this was something I appreciated about Ordet when I viewed it this week, how the rhythms of a farm family's (and tailor's) life - complete with farm animal noises on the soundtrack - were seamlessly integrated into such a deeply spiritual tale.

On a more somber note, Heartbeat Detector, perhaps?

And a recurring theme in Kurosawa's films is finding enlightenment and wholeness through vocation, serving others, and extreme perseverance - key examples could include No Regrets for our Youth, Seven Samurai, Ikiru, and Red Beard.

Edited by Andrew

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Big Night


Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Has anyone suggested John Sayles' "Limbo"?

"Witness"


"The core purpose of art is a survival mechanism, and the way it helps us survive is by making us attentive." Milton Glaser

Donate for free at The Hunger Site

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In Good Company

Sweet Land

Places in the Heart

Has anyone suggested John Sayles' "Limbo"?

And what about Matewan?


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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