“I’m as Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take This Anymore!” 10 Films for the Occupy Movement and 99%

As a San Francisco native I am damn proud of our local occupation and excited to see the movement grow and spread throughout the world. The fact is that we are mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore. Why should we sit back while governments all over the world allow the rich to steal from the poor? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I mean, last time I checked Robin Hood was still the fucking good guy. It’s time for us to GET ANGRY. This is a list of ten films that will inspire, educate and entertain members of  Occupy and the 99%. I hope you enjoy them!

The Battle Of Algiers

“What lessons a modern viewer can gain from the film depends on who is watching and what they want to see.” –  Roger Ebert. With that in mind, here is what I see. The story of the Algerian Revolution against France, the bloodiest revolution in modern history, is something that the Occupy moment can learn a lot from. When a small Algerian terrorist group starts killing French police and bombing European neighborhoods it is met with brutal force that hurts not only the group but those around them as well. As they are hunted down and killed one by one we see the failings of a small group’s decision to violently protest. It isn’t until years after the  terrorist threat is over that Algeria won it’s independence through a mostly peaceful mass movement. If Occupy continues to rally support instead of resorting to pointless expressions of anger it could possibly become one of the largest mass movements the world has ever seen.

Capitalism: A Love Story

No matter how you feel about Michael Moore as a filmmaker, this documentary exposes truths that cannot be denied. The main truth being that banks run our country. Goldman Sachs, the masterminds behind the get rich quick bailout, have been running the United States treasury since the Clinton administration and for the most part continue to do so under president Obama. During the bank bailout the head of the United States Treasury was the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and about ten other members of GS also held treasury positions. In short, the people who were deciding how to spend our tax money were literally working for the banks. The film also focuses on working class Americans’ struggle to keep their houses after the banking laws changed to allow banks to steal houses by adjusting refinance rates. Considering this is exactly what the Occupy movement is fighting against this movie is an outstanding introduction to the current financial situation in the United States. Just ignore the brief part about how Obama might actually bring change.

The Grapes Of Wrath

The Grapes Of Wrath follows a 1930s Dust Bowl family who gets kicked off of their property because of bank foreclosures and due to lack of work is forced to live in an urban camp with hundreds of other unemployed families. I for one am glad that I live in this great country, The United States of America, that took steps to make sure that something like this could never happen agai- OH SHIT, IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN. Just as relevant now as it was on its release in 1940 The Grapes Of Wrath shows how evil the 1% can be through the eyes of an everyday family. Henry Fonda gives a great performance in what is probably the best work of director John Ford.

Harlan Country U.S.A.

Harlan County U.S.A. is one of the best documentary films every made. It shows the bitter 1973 battle fought between the Harlan County coal workers and the Eastover Mining Company. Filmmaker Barbara Kopple masterfully captures the events and weaves them together with such brilliance that by the end of the film it’s hard not to feel that you are part of the Harlan community. This might be the most important film for members of the 99% as it shows how hard you have to fight and what you have to be willing to sacrifice to get it. This emotional documentary strikes close to home in a time where the greed of major corporations is forcing members of the working class out of their homes, their health, and sometimes their lives.

Inside Job

Inside Job is a more in-depth and less personal look at the economic collapse than the aforementioned Capitalism: A Love Story. The film talks with many experts, some of whom are partially to blame, about what exactly caused the economy’s bubble to burst and how it could have been prevented. The answer is simple: Everyone running the banks knew it was all going to blow up in their faces so they got rich as quickly as they could at the expense of the United States’ and world’s economy. The terrifying thing about Inside Job is that it shows exactly how much power the banks hold in our country and how we no longer have a democracy. It convinces me that working people will have to take power, no amount of regulations will change capitalism.

Matewan

Talk about a film full of powerhouse acting performances. Chris CooperMary McDonnell and James Earl Jones all deliver some of their best work as key players in the Matewan coal miners strike. Based on the true story of the Matewan Massacre the film follows the Matewan miners as they struggle to keep calm and stay organized while the coal company’s hired guns threaten, beat and kill them every chance they get. Union organizer Joe Kenehan (Cooper) is doing his best to keep the strike peaceful but when the mining company goes too far the townsfolk, teaming up with the sheriff, can’t take it any longer. The western style shootout that ensues started a chain reaction of violence that would later lead to the Battle of Blair Mountain and  the United Mine Workers union losing about 75% of its members. If Occupy wants to be successful its members have to keep their eyes focused on winning not the battle but the war. It would be criminal if I didn’t also note that the film’s cinematography is absolutely brilliant.

Network

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” exclaims news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) who has gone crazy enough to tell the truth. At first the TV network panics after his on-air explosion but when the show’s ratings come in higher than ever maverick programmer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) decides to run with it. Not only are Howard’s outbursts extremely motivating to a distracted working class but the film predicts today’s shock television culture. It shows the behind the scenes working of a major news corporation where ratings are more important than morals and sometimes human life. If you’re mad as hell about current state of our country  you have to check out Network.

Punishment Park

In this pseudo-documentary a crew of documentary filmmakers follow a group made up of random anti-establishment arrestees as they trek through Punishment Park in filmmaker Peter Watkins’ commentary on the American justice systems unfair treatment of radical thinkers and activists. After the accused are rushed through a fixed trial they are given a choice between a unreasonable long prison sentence or three days in Punishment Park. Given the options they choose to go with Punishment Park. They are then sent into a desert course with only one goal – get to the finish without being caught, or killed. Punishment Park is a brilliant and shocking look into the horrors that oppressive governments force upon their citizens and why we need to fight back!

Salt Of The Earth

Salt Of The Earth is based on the true story of Mexican-American workers’ and their wives’ fight against the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico (I promise this is the last film about miners). The film, written and directed by members of the original “Hollywood Ten”, was blacklisted by Hollywood and struggled to find support in the USA despite playing successfully in Europe. Only five professional actors appear in the movie, the rest of the cast is made up of members of the town that actually participated in the strike. One of the reasons this film works so well for the Occupy movement is because it doesn’t focus on the rights of just one group of people. As the miners in the movie strike, workers’ rights, Mexican-American rights and women’s rights are all of equal importance. In fact Salt Of The Earth can be counted as one of the first truly pro-feminist  films. While shooting, the film crew was violently harassed and received death threats from right wing activists. The film’s star Rosaura Revueltas was deported to Mexico several times due to “passport issues”. Even with all of the production problems the crew of Salt Of The Earth stood strong to create one of the best American pro-union/workers’ rights films.

V For Vendetta

If you have been to a occupy march you have probably seen a group of people wearing theater masks. After watching this film you will be enlightened as to the origin of the mask that has become the staple symbol of the group Anonymous. V For Vendetta is probably the most accessible, fun and stylized film about a mass movement. Even though I don’t love the film’s style, or its emphasis on violence, it still contains some extremely powerful moments. As we follow the masked revolutionary, V, he takes steps to turn his one man vendetta into a movement to overthrow the fascist police state that is future England. I would also easily rank this as one of the best comic book films ever made.

Bonus film! Oakland General Strike Documentary Short

There you have it! I hope these films inspire the 99% to get angry and do something about it! Comment below and give me your thoughts on the list or note any films I might have left off.

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Categories: Best Of Lists, Features

One Comment on ““I’m as Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take This Anymore!” 10 Films for the Occupy Movement and 99%”

  1. David Elvecrog
    December 1, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Great List! Another documentary as a bonus is “Berkeley In the 60’s”. Great film about the 1960s freedom of speech movement on Berkeley campuses. This movement led to the anti-war movement, which paralleled the hippies in San Francisco as well as the Black Panthers and Hell’s Angels in Oakland. The film covers them all in relation to the student protests of the 1960s. About the list, I have seen Network and Battle for Algiers, both fantastic films. I have seen V for Vendetta and Grapes of Wrath as well and enjoyed them. I love the list and feel that it is on point.
    Thanks!
    D.R. Elvecrog

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