EN / nl
Ivens, Joris & Henri Storck
Ivens b. 1898, Nijmegen, NL; d. 1989, Paris, France Storck b. 1907, Ostend, Belgium; d. 1999, Brussels, Belgium
Misère au Borinage, 1934 Silent black and white film, 34 min.
In the summer of 1932 a heavy strike gripped the coal basins of the Borinage region of Belgium. Strong international competition had caused the world’s coal stocks to rise and the miners’ wages to drop, and a strike was seen as the only way to resolve the workers’ grievances. A total of 100,000 miners from all over the country were involved (Hogenkamp and Storck 1983). Heavy repression ensued. Active demonstrators were put on blacklists, while defaulters were evicted from their homes. In the height of winter, miners were deprived of fuel while coal stocks sat rotting behind heavily guarded barbed wire. A year later Henri Storck and Joris Ivens began filming a powerful indictment of the response to the strike. They deliberately avoided pretty photographic effects in order not to distract from the harshness of reality there. Some scenes had to be recorded in secret to avoid police repression. Storck and Ivens were aided in this by the miners themselves, who sensed the filmmakers’ solidarity with them. Reporting on these circumstances also meant taking sides. The final result consists of their own footage, images from the news and dramatisations that enhance their report. MM
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