Shine A Light

Films, Photos, Music, Fashion, Aesthetic, Narrative, Style, Image, Dialogue....

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Blue Collar - A prelude to requiem

The recent TV documentary Requiem for Detroit got loads of people talking and interested in seeing how a city effectively destroyed itself. But maybe people new that was coming 30 years ago.

The film Blue Collar was released in 1978, its not well known nowadays and maybe wasn't even back then, but without it you probably wouldn't have The Wire, it helped fuel the careers of its stars Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor, and it clearly showed the messed up state of the city Detroit and the fragile infrastructure of corporate America and the unions and the continuing racial tensions that is now painfully obvious for everyone to see.

The film centers around 3 friends who work in on an auto assembly line in Detroit and their lives and struggles as working men.

In some ways the film has aged, but the tightness of the script by Paul Shrader and the improv, style and flow of the dialogue delivered by Keitel, Pryor and Yaphet Kotto was incredibly fresh and new at the time and holds up today. Pryor in-particular moving away from the comedy performances he is/was commonly associated with delivers an incredibly diverse and well rounded performance, both comedic and dramatic, of a character who could be seen as both heroic and villainous.

The film is significant for talking bluntly, openly and critically of strong American institutions, such as the auto industry and the unions, but also attacks the idea and ideals of 'the American Dream'. As if the film itself (the story, the characters and the themes) are in stuck a losing position where they have to rebel against everything.

The film has clearly inspired many other conspiracy themed movies and films about working men and the urban environment, and the style of low budget, location shooting and a script written and delivered in a naturalistic way is now common place amongst mainstream movies.
The clever way the film portrays the main characters as not always heroic and their cause is not always the just one, instead they are also portrayed in a negative light (its not always a simple case of the struggling working man against the evil corporations and feds). This duality of the main characters being people that the audience empathizes with but doesn't necessarily like and do things that are shocking and wrong, is now common place in films and shows such as The Sopranos and The Wire.

The film's use of music (awesome blues/rock soundtrack by Jack Nitzsche) was also inventive, by using music associated with the characters and their lives in both a diegetic and non-diegetic way gives the film another layer of believability, by helping to fully portray the world is depicting.

This is definitely a film to check out if you have ever worked a day in your life, lived in a city or listened to music....

Also..its has a perfect title sequence....Enjoy...go watch it!

('this is my two hundred and sixty-thousandth piece of glass')

No comments:

Post a Comment