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The Wobblies

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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(Jun 27, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

"Solidarity! All for One and One for All!" With that slogan, the Industrial Workers of the World, aka the Wobblies, took to organizing unskilled workers into one big union and changing the course of history. Along the way to winning an eight-hour workday and fair wages in the early 20th century, the Wobblies were one of the few unions to be racially and sexually integrated and often met with imprisonment, violence, and the privations of prolonged strikes. This award-winning film airs a provocative look at the forgotten American history of this most radical of unions, screening the unforgettable and still-fiery voices of Wobbly members--lumberjacks, migratory workers, and silk weavers--in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Eerily echoing current times, THE WOBBLIES boldly investigates a nation torn by naked corporate greed and the red-hot rift between the industrial masters and the rabble-rousing workers in the field and factory. Replete with gorgeous archival footage, the film pays tribute to American workers who took the ideals of equality and free speech seriously enough to die for them. Directed by Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer, THE WOBBLIES is a rare and challenging invitation to rethink both past and present through the eyes of an organization largely omitted from memory. DVD Features: Filmmaker Interview with Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer; Interview with Historian and Author Paul Buhle; Original Recordings of IWW Songs; Exclusive Photo Gallery; Filmmaker Biographies; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Special Features

  • Filmmaker interview
  • Interview with historian and author Paul Buhle
  • Original recordings of IWW songs
  • Still gallery
  • Filmmaker bios

Product Details

  • Directors: Deborah Shaffer, Stewart Bird
  • Producers: Deborah Shaffer, Stewart Bird
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FBFZ2M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,266 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Wobblies" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alfred Johnson on March 18, 2008
Format: DVD
A review of the life of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as Wobblies) leader Big Bill Haywood. An appreciation of the role of the Wobblies in early 20th century labor history by American Trotskyist leader (and former Wobblie) James P. Cannon. An urgent call to help old time Wobblie folksinger/storyteller Utah Phillips. A reading of a biography of "Rebel Girl" Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (later, unfortunately, an unrepentant Stalinist hack). And now a DVD review of the film The Wobblies. For a writer who holds no truck with anarcho-syndicalist solutions to the problems of the class struggle this certainly has nevertheless turned into the Year of the Wobblie. And, dear friends, that is as it should be. Before the formation of the American Communist Party in the immediate aftermath of World War I the Wobblies were, front and center, the central revolutionary labor organization in this country. We honor those struggles, the memory of those old comrades and try to learn the lessons from their fights. And that, ultimately, is the beauty of the film under review.

Most docudramas or documentaries are filled with learned `talking heads' telling us what the historical significance of this or that event meant. And that concept has its place in our search for understanding of our history, good or bad. The filmmakers had seemingly gone out and found every last old time rank and file or middle level cadre Wobblie that still uttered breathe at the time of the film creation (1979). Here we get the voice, sometimes loud, sometimes confused, sometimes haltingly, sometimes not very articulately telling the story of the Wobblies down at the base-the place where all class struggle ultimately has to be resolved.
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Format: DVD
"To be people, not nobody"--that, according to a Patterson, NJ, woman interviewed in the film "The Wobblies," was what she and her fellow-workers wanted to be. And after enduring both the exploitation of the bosses and the apparent indifferent of the conventional labor unions, they believed they found the vehicle to humanity in the Industrial Workers of the World, the "one big union" founded in Chicago in 1905.

"Wobblies" is the story of the IWW, from its origins to its near destruction during World War I. Disliked by industrialists and labor leaders alike, the IWW was really the only radical workers organization the US has ever spawned. It accepted everyone who earned a wage, crossing all color lines in a day and age when the more conventional labor unions refused to admit people of color. Led by stalwarts such as Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the IWW grew in strength from coast to coast, organizing first lumberjacks and miners, and then factory workers, stevedores, and other unskilled laborers. It fought the Lawrence textile mills in 1912 and won; the Patterson factories in 1913, and lost; the the railroads on the Pacific coast in 1917, and won again. It was an up and coming force, and it scared the heck out of the political and financial powers that be.

So in 1917, with Woodrow Wilson's blessing, the government busted the IWW on rigged charges that it encouraged young men to resist serving in the armed forces. Virtually all the leadership was sentenced to incredible prison sentences under the Espionage Act, and the Wobblies, already beginning to splinter internally from feuds between anarchist and communist members, declined.

But it was a great and glorious dream.
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Format: DVD
My wife & I both enjoyed this. She went for the old footage. She likes American Pickers, Antiques Roadshow, all historical but the real McCoys. And I enjoyed The Real McCoy revolutionary workers of the world UNITED! concept getting legs across the country. The capitalist, then, as now had the control, the means to power's strings. Although, as the film makers said(great extra section where they discuss the whole process of the film), the organizers had all passed on, so they dealt with the workers; I wanted to know the organizing side of the workers better. The captitalist perform to serotype, as typical of there being. Sort of a reverse Popeye, in other words the counterarchetype/Iams what I'ams. Power takes what they were & warps them, shapes them, and then spits them out into monsters that crave power and will DO ANYTHING to keep it.
Regardless of the label put on economics, Broad-Based(many workers) purchasing power(demand) remains essential for healthy markets, just as Broad-Based Ownership(many well-paid workers) remains indispensible for healthy democracies. The Washington consensus of Chicago economics(closed system vs. Web of Debt by Ellen Brown) puts the economic health of communities worldwide at risk.
Needless to say the battles hard fought to win worker's rights are being stripped away, as I write this. So I looking for an ENCORE performance 21st style. Altough labor's legs are wobbly, there numbers are Titanic in Strength. Just needs a way to get past the corporate press/media, to organize and get back what was lost and then some.

Yes, I like it! Workers of the World UNITE!

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