Master Hands 1936
A few years after this was filmed, the Chrysler Lynch Rd plant reached a production rate of one car per minute! A fantastic showcase showing Detroit as it starts to hit full modern stride.
Classic capitalist realist drama showing the manufacture of Chevrolets from foundry to finished vehicles. Though ostensibly a tribute to the 'master hands' of the assembly line workers, it seems more of a paean to the designers of this impressive mass production system. Filmed in Flint, Michigan, just months before the United Auto Workers won union recognition with their famous sitdown strikes. Released the same year as two other films with which it shares similarities: MODERN TIMES and TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. Selected for the 1999 National Film Registry of 'artistically, culturally, and socially significant' films.
This film, made by Chevrolet in the mid 1930's, purports to be a salute to the workers in the Chevrolet plants, but it really seems to be a salute to heavy industry in general. The process of making a car is shown from start to finish, to the tune of a majestic soundtrack based on Wagner.
Ken Smith calls this sort of film 'capitalist realism' , a play on socialist realism which was mandatory in the Soviet Union at the time. It's a very apt label here, as this could have just as easily been made in the Soviet Union.
It's an amazing work of modern art that the Futurists would have been proud of. The machines are the art, which is a modernist ideal. Some scenes don't look so much like manufacturing as dance, a bizarre dance of men and machine together. The workers don't look so much like people as part of the machines they're operating. You are impressed by their skill, though, and how hard and dangerous the work looks. These guys really earned their paychecks!
In: Arts and Entertainment, Other, Arts and Entertainment, Other
Tags: chevrolet, master hands, heavy engineering,
Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States (load item map)
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