Master Hands (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 2: Capitalist Realism CD-ROM (Voyager). Also, film #898 on Prelinger Archive. Also, film #2 on Ephemeral Films CD-ROM (Voyager) (excerpt)). [Category: Industrial]

This film, made by Chevrolet in the mid 1930's, purports to be a salute to the workers in the Chevrolet plants, but it really seems to be a salute to heavy industry in general. The process of making a car is shown from start to finish, to the tune of a majestic soundtrack based on Wagner. Prelinger calls this sort of film "capitalist realism", a play on "socialist realism" which was mandatory in the Soviet Union at the time. It's a very apt label here, as this could have just as easily been made in the Soviet Union. It's an amazing work of modern art that the Futurists would have been proud of. The machines are the art, which is a modernist ideal. Some scenes don't look so much like manufacturing as dance, a bizarre dance of men and machine together. The workers don't look so much like people as part of the machines they're operating. You are impressed by their skill, though, and how hard and dangerous the work looks. These guys really earned their paychecks! The big question I have, though, is this: Were the opening and closing credits really made as bronze plaques as they appear to be? If so, do those plaques still exist today? I want the one that says "The End".

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.


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