CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006
The Take: Occupy. Resist. Produce.
Avi Lewis (Director). Silva Basmajian (NFB Producer). Laszlo Barna (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
87 min., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: C9104 086.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Reece Steinberg.
The Take is the story of workers in Argentina who reclaim factories and work for their community and without bosses. The film briefly discusses Argentina's economic history and explains how the rich up-and-coming country with a prosperous middle class was transformed by the "Capitalist Wild West" policies of the International Monetary Fund. English-subtitled interviews with the workers and their families tell the story of people who were at one time economically comfortable, but who now have to choose between paying rent and feeding their children.
Men and women who had been out of work often for years, watching the factories they had worked for sit unused, began to lock themselves in and start up productions. Suddenly factory owners who had closed the factories because they were unprofitable began to pay attention as the workers organized themselves and began production. The Take documents the workers' struggle to retain the various factories as well as the organizational process and effects of their new economy.
This film, by author Naomi Klein and journalist Avi Lewis, is excellent for a number of reasons. Though the story it tells is political, it resembles an interesting, personal look at the lives of several families and the people around them rather than a tool of propaganda. For the most part, Klein and Lewis let the workers speak for themselves, only adding sparse narration when necessary. The imagery is powerful, adeptly capturing the machinery in the factories manufacturing goods in a captivating rhythm, and the strength and commitment of the workers. Though more of the factories seem to employ primarily men, The Take does a good job of portraying and interviewing workers who are women as well.
The only real way in which The Take flounders is when it tries to introduce worldwide movements against capitalism. This is relevant and could have been done artfully, but instead it uses dated footage of Seattle, neither the first nor the most recent example of anti-capitalist protest. The very short excerpt is not long enough to adequately explain much about global capitalism or protest, and it does not blend in with the rest of the movie well.
Overall, The Take is an informative, enjoyable and unique documentary. The factory workers and their solutions to unemployment are thought-provoking and inspiring.
Reece Steinberg is completing a Master's degree in Library and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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