Feb 19, 2013

Symbioza (Symbiosis) 1969

posted for Madeline Ostdick

Symbiosis is a silent film [the original sound has not survivedby Junak Tadeusz from 1969 that rapidly intercuts tight, close-up shots of machinery (of what appears to be a loom) with shots of the women working the machines, often lingering on the passive visages of the latter. Though there is no sound, a clear rhythm is established. 
The title of this film alludes to the relationship between the workers and the machinery established by the montage. Towards the end of the film, the workers take a break, and the film intercuts between the static technology and their inactivity. Moreover, the end section of the film employs more of a realist aesthetic in documenting the break, eradicating the rhythm of the first section. Obviously, the machines cannot run without the workers, but what do the machines give the workers? The choice to use female workers was an interesting one—it is perhaps not apt to say that the film dehumanizes them, but it definitely desexualizes them. The break section of the film is the only time we see the women emote (they break a smile while talking to one another), but we also lose the poetic kineticism of the active loom. By the end of the film, my boyfriend and I began a heated argument largely centered on the political intent of the film—was this film pro-Soviet or anti-Soviet? Was the machinery aestheticized as a poetic extension of the worker? Or was the stoicism of these female workers meant to convey a loss of humanity?

Madeline Ostdick

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