SEPTEMBER FILM: 'STRIKE' - documentary (2006)

9/15 • Wed. 7:30 PM
Dir. Volker Schlöndorff
Like “Norma Rae,” “Strike” tells the story of a tough, resilient working woman who refuses to back down from her fight with the bosses. The difference is that in this case the bosses are not greedy capitalists but Communist bureaucrats, committed, in theory, to defending the interests of the workers. There is a delicious poetic justice in the way Mr. Schlöndorff, in telling part of the story of Poland’s Solidarity movement, has used some of the crude, effective techniques of Socialist realism to depict the collapse of socialism. He calls the film “a ballad inspired by true events,” and its occasional bouts of clumsiness and sentimentality are inseparable from its power.

Strike (click on the title for trailer) is a Polish language film produced by a mainly German group, released in 2006 and directed by Volker Schlöndorff. The film is broadly a docudrama. It covers the formation of Solidarity. The action centers around work and labor organizing in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland.

posted 9/15:  After seeing the movie tonight:

Most of us didn't like the movie much:  too simplistic, different truth than we remembered, and overall rather disappointing.  But, BUT, very big BUT: most of os who didn't like it that much actually WERE in Poland where it all happened; so perhaps we are just too emotional about it, as it hits us on a gut level.

After we all spewed our bile Krzys, who worked in shipyard in 70s, philosophically noted that we, the Poles, never made a documentary film about Solidarity (except for 1981 Wajda's ' The man of Iron');  it took a German director to look back - a very good question why.

Then another viewer, Paul, who travelled 60 miles to see the movie, and WASN'T there when it happened, announced he thoroughly enjoyed the film:  he didn't care about little details (true or not),  liked historical perspective the film offered and was struck how labor movement struggles are the same the world over.

Apart from the movie:  the bacon/onion lard Iza  made for the occasion was awesome with pickles and bread.  There was a scene in the movie where the main heroine slathers the bread with something: probably lard... Somebody joked that the wine we had, should have been vodka... oh, well.   We also had some great home garden harvest tomatoes and cucumbers + super-delicious discussion.

Below a few related links:

• Volker Schlondorf Wiki-page
Interview with Volker Shlondorf (Reverse Shoot Blog)
Slant Magazine 'Strike' film  review

posted 9/12:  Article in Polityka 'An old friend worse than foe' (in Polish)
Interesting 9/9/10 interview with psychologist, Konrad May, attempting to explain negative emotions between old allies, Solidarity members, who now seem to fight each other.  Here is a fragment and google (not very good, but readable) translation:

Działacze „Solidarności” zawsze się różnili, te podziały nie są nowe. Mieli inne wizje Polski i walki o jej niepodległość: czy budować państwo bardziej liberalne, czy konserwatywne, czy szukać porozumienia z ludźmi władzy, czy raczej wywalczyć wolność siłą. Mówiąc metaforycznie: dwie grupy działaczy próbowały obalić komunistyczny mur, tyle, że uderzały z różnych stron. Gdy ten obiekt runął – stanęły naprzeciwko siebie, ale zamiast paść sobie w ramiona nadal okładały się młotkami. Dopóki był wspólny cel - sprzeciw wobec PRL-owskiej władzy – ci ludzie mieli wspólną tożsamość, pewne różnice ideowe schodziły na plan dalszy. Dziś niechęć do dawnych sojuszników, których wizja obalania systemu zwyciężyła, może być silniejsza niż do odwiecznych, pokonanych już wrogów. Część tych, którzy przegrali, może mieć poczucie niedocenienia. Nie potrafią pogodzić się z tym, że nie są uznawali za głównych architektów obalenia władzy ludowej – dlatego głoszą spiskowe teorie, piszą książki, udzialają wywiadów, gdzie oskarżają byłych kolegów o agenturalne powiązania. To wywołuje silne emocjonalne reakcje tych byłych kolegów. Nie ma się co dziwić, że potem trudno jest jak gdyby nigdy nic, usiąść obok siebie w eleganckiej sali na uroczystościach. Emocje biorą górę nad dyplomacją.

Polish to English google translation:
Activists' Solidarity has always differed, these divisions are not new. They had different visions of Polish and fight for its independence: whether the state to build a more liberal or conservative, whether to seek an agreement with people of power, or rather the strength to fight for freedom. Metaphorically speaking, two groups of activists attempted to overthrow the communist wall, so that it struck with the different parties. When the object came down - stood opposite each other, but instead browse each other's arms still okładały the hammers. Until a common goal - opposition to the PRL of power - these people had a common identity, some ideological differences came down to the background. Today reluctance to former allies, whose vision of the overthrow of the system prevailed, it can be stronger than the eternal, already vanquished enemies. Some of those who lost, may feel unappreciated. They can not accept the fact that they are not recognized as the main architects of the overthrow of the people's power - which is why conspiracy theories preach, write books, udzialają interviews, where he accused former colleagues of secret ties. It evokes strong emotional reactions of those former colleagues. It's no wonder that it is difficult afterwards as if nothing had happened to sit next to each other in an elegant room at the ceremony. Emotions take precedence over diplomacy.

posted 9/3: 'Strike' it is.
23 votes total:
- Nicos Dyzma - 6 votes
- Decalogue - 3 votes
- Strike - 10 votes
- Secret Garden - 4 votes.

Thank you for voting and see you all at the screening next Wednesday! What would be appropriate potluck food for the occasion?  The striking people of Gdansk probably had good old fashioned lard sandwiches...  I remember making tons of it with onion and fried apples - my arteries were grateful. Not.  But it was sooooo good on the fresh bread.  Anybody still has a recipe for lard making? I'll bring the bread and wine -  such an occasion, as Hanna said below:  '30 years ago some people in Gdansk decided to take a stand', and that is all that really matters, we shall celebrate them!

posted 9/2: the poll ends today, so far it looks like we will be seeing 'Strike'.....


  1. This is a terrible movie that doesn't understand Polish history and the communal nature of the Gdansk strikes.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous, and: could you elaborate?

    I haven't seen this movie and would like to be aware of potential problems - found it at 'scarecrow' and people voted for it.

    I hope you can come and share with the rest of us your concerns; this is a 'discussion' club after all, the film critique is always welcome and may help us understand better these not so distant historical events.

  3. I am going to approach the screening of Strike with an open mind (as we all should), and be thankful that because 30 years ago some people in Gdansk decided to take a stand, a movie like this one can now be either praised or criticized.


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Polish Movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Since OKO meets only once a month, here is a list of movies in Polish, with English subtitles, available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Documentaries are not included. If you are into that genre, there is a ton available! Enjoy!