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Strike

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In poverty, she found strength.
In oppression, she found courage.
In solidarity, she found a reason to believe again.

Acclaimed German actress Katharina Thalbach (THE TIN DRUM, SOPHIE’S CHOICE) stars in this hard-hitting historical drama set during the rise of Poland’s Solidarity movement.

An illiterate single mother, Agnieszka Kowalska is a Socialist "heroine of labor" for working long hours as a shipyard welder… until her superiors deny compensation to the widows of 21 workers killed in an industrial disaster.

Risking her job, her life, and the love of her son to defy the bureacracy, Agnieszka inspires the largest labor strike in world history… and becomes a national hero.

Volker Schlöndorff adapted this "ballad based on historical events" from the biography of Anna Walentynowicz, the free trade activist who mobilized a million Poles for Solidarity and helped hasten the fall of Communism.

Filmed entirely on location at Poland’s Lenin Shipyard, where history was made.

Review

Stirring --A. O. Scott, The New York Times

A terrific lead performance by Katharina Thalbach --Reel.com

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Katharina Thalbach, Dominique Horwitz, Wojciech Solarz, Andrzej Grabowski, Ewa Telega
  • Directors: Volker Schlöndorff
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English, German, Polish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000RPCJAW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,226 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Strike" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By WSH on January 24, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Katharina Thalbach, as many have said, gives a wonderful performance in this film about the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland. The film was shot at the Gdansk shipyards, which certainly adds to the authenticity and impact of the story, though the director has not chosen to make a political documentary or attempt a grand-scale treatment of the upheaval that brought an end to the communist domination of Eastern Europe. Rather, his focus is personal and intimate, on the character of the illiterate welder who emerges from obscurity to become the focus of the workers' uprising. At times the domesticity of the film-maker's focus saps some of the tension out of the story, although it might be argued that this was a necessary sacrifice to get the particular story, with its own particular mood, across to the audience.
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Katharina Thalbach gives a brilliant performance as shipyard welder and crane operator Agnieszka Kowalska, who is unjustly fired by the shipyard managers of Gdansk shipyard for protesting the denial of widows pensions for workers killed in a fire at the shipyard, a fire caused by management incompetence.

Her stubborn insistence on justice and refusal to be payed off or intimidated by the shipyard management or Polish Government caused the strike on the Gdansk shipyard in August 1980 which spread to other Polish shipyards and public services across Poland all of which led to the creation of the first free unions and ultimately free elections in Poland 10 years later. Consequently, the consequences of her actions were a part of several domestic and military setbacks for the Soviet Union which ultimately led to its collapse.

Thalback put in a superb performance as Kowalska who shows that one person at the right time and place can lead to dramatic change for the good.
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"STRIKE" is a true story of the Polish People and their great fight for freedom against the communist authorities who had ruled them since the defeat of the Nazis.

This should be purchased along with the DVD, and another true story of the courage of the Polish People during their long struggle for freedom, "TO KILL A PRIEST".
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Format: DVD
"Strike" (Strajk-Bohaterka z Gdanska) shows us the story of a woman who helped the Solidarity movement in Gdansk, Poland. Agnieszka is a welder who works harder than others and is initially disliked by some of her co-workers for it. She is optimistic to better herself and learns to read so that she can pass the exam to become a crane operator, which reflects her nature and her will to do good. Although she is fairly short in stature, she is steadfast in defending the rights of workers and becomes a heroine doing so.

In my view, "Strike" is an unusual Polish film as it is a German production in the Polish language. German director Volker Schlondorff, who is best known for "Tin Drum," brings us this story about the woman who spurred the Solidarity movement. Furthermore, two of the leading roles in "Strike" are played by Germans, including that of our heroine Agnieszka (Katharina Thalbach). The rest of the cast is Polish -- including notable performances by Andrzej Chyra and Andrzej Grabowski. The only detail that is obviously German about "Strike" is that the credits are in that language.

"Strike" isn't the first movie on the Solidarity movement. In 1981, Andrzej Wajda directed his influential film "Man of Iron" (Czlowiek z Zelaza) that showed the world what was happening in Poland. Interestingly, "Strike" has someone playing the role of Lech Walesa while in "Man of Iron" has Lech Walesa appearing as himself. Although both having a different feeling they show us history we may not have heard much about anywhere else.

In the face of injustice, corruption and bad working conditions, some people had the courage to stand up to defend the rights of workers. The dramatic story of our wide-eye heroine Agnieszka may inspire you.
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Volker Schlondorff has offered a sincere and finely-crafted portrait of a working class woman, culminating in a fairy-tale-like triumph that few of her class and gender ever witness. Though it does not achieve the sweep of Vajda's "Man of Iron," it is a faithful if slightly fictionalized recreation of the Solidarity movement that well captures the spirit of its time and era. The inclusion of contemporary archival footage underscores its realism for those unfamiliar with its story.

I see that other reviewers read into the film - and the Solidarity movement - the prevailing Western consensus that it "began the end of Communism", etc. This is hardly the case. As one of those Leftists vilified by others, I must say that I never "hated" Solidarity, and thus I have no fundamental issue with this recreation. It portrays the struggle of real working people, following a template that applied to so many labor struggles in Europe, Latin America and - for that matter - the US throughout most of the 20th century. But the intervening history between the triumph of 1980 and the spiritual defeat of Solidarity is glossed over in the film.

The Solidarity of 1980-1981 was crushed by General Jaruszelski's tanks and praetorian troops. What emerged in 1989 bore no resemblance to this movement, and the real character fictionalized here - Anna Walentynowicz - has been among those former leaders deploring Poland's evolution under a false-flag Solidarnosc. Another Solidarity leader, Karol Modzelewski, said at the time of this film's release to Le Monde diplomatique that "I wouldn't have spent a week nor a month, let alone 8.5 years in jail for capitalism!
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