The film is adapted from the book by sociologist and co-founder of the Maoist movement Robert Linhart, which recounts his “workbench” experience of living the experience of a factory worker.
“I experienced May 68 as a crisis of madness” said Robert Linhart, author of The Workbench (Midnight Editions). A young Parisian intellectual, he joined the movement of “established” in September, which sees young activists like him experience the life of factory workers to immerse themselves in their daily lives, and act from within against pressure from employers. . It is the story of The Workbench which hits screens on Wednesday April 5, to be seen on the channel.
In September 1968, Robert, a Maoist college teacher, was hired by Citroën as OS, the lowest level of factory qualification. After a hard adaptation, and learning that the factory has decided to make the workers work without pay three hours a week to reimburse itself for the Grenelle agreements (payment for the hours of the strike in May), he becomes the linchpin of a movement social, while his colleagues no longer want to hear about politics after the relative failure of May 68.
Published in 1978, ten years after the events of May, The Workbench remains one of the major testimonies on the workers’ situation in France during the Trente Glorieuses. We discovered the pressures of the employers on the working classes, led by contemptuous, even racist technocrats, under patriarchal domination, while the country was barely emerging from the greatest social crisis since the Popular Front. A landmark testimony that Mathias Gokalp brilliantly adapts after the play by Marie-Laure Boggio and Olivier Mellor in 2018.
A casting in gold is in coal: Swann Arlaud is the very convincing alter ego of Robert Linhart; Mélanie Thierry plays the compassionate but frustrated wives; Denis Podalydès is the boss – more expected but still remarkable -, and Olivier Gourmet takes on the role of the somewhat outdated, fatalistic CGT trade unionist, who wakes up late. Mathias Gokalp films assembly line work by capturing the suffering and stress resulting from “hellish cadences”. Violent, humiliating pressures are exerted when the work done is destroyed by the executives for lack of speed, and under false pretenses.
Political films are currently experiencing a revival with feature films like Goliath Or The promises. Social cinema has sometimes taken refuge in thrillers (Bac Nord, The Syndicalist), and the subject has developed on the side of societal issues (Last Dance, Thank God). The Workbench returns to a more classic current in the tradition of the 70s. It is nevertheless more powerful in its message faithful to the autobiographical novel by Robert Linhart. Social news, with protests in the streets due to the pension reform, gives it a very contemporary dimension on a subject – the working world – which is disappearing following deindustrialization in France. Mathias Gokalp demonstrates that on the side of films, the fight continues.
Gender : Political drama
Director: Mathias Gokalp
Actors: Swann Arlaud, Melanie Thierry, Denis Podalydès, Olivier Gourmet, Lorenzo Lefebvre, Malek Lamraoui
Country : France
Duration : 1h57
Exit : April 5 2023
Distributer : The pact
A few months after May 68, Robert, normalien and militant of the extreme left, decides to be made engage at Citroën as worker with the chain. Like other of his comrades, he wants to infiltrate the factory to rekindle the revolutionary fire, but the majority of the workers no longer want to hear about politics. When Citroën decides to reimburse itself for the Grenelle agreements by requiring workers to work three hours overtime a week free of charge, Robert and a few others then foresee the possibility of a social movement.