This film is part of Free
And… Action! Workers become filmmakers in this realist drama steeped in period detail.
What this film lacks in polish, it more than makes up for in authentic grime. When young Bob is abruptly laid off he becomes down and out in a London that Orwell might have recognised from his travails. Filmed in 1935 on 16mm cameras and without sound, it was an attempt to put authentic working class lives and issues on screen in a fictionalised drama produced by workers’ themselves.
The Workers’ Film & Photo League made documentaries, newsreels and fiction shorts in order to tell stories that the commercial industry wasn’t. Fiction proved a hard nut to crack, and this film – originally titled Fight! – was initially not seen as fit to release. Like the earlier Bread (1934) it makes use of close-ups, jaunty angles and distinctive montage inspired by screenings of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925). But it is the use of real-life locations and non-professional actors that appears most modern today.