America the Beautiful

An Injury to One

Travis Wilkerson
USA 2002 | 53 Min. | OF

A miners’ strike is brew­ing in Butte, Mon­tana, in the rev­o­lu­tion­ary year of 1917. Tens of thou­sands of men have already lost their lives in the copper mines of the Ana­con­da Mining Com­pa­ny. The rad­i­cal union Indus­tri­al Work­ers of the World (IWW) takes up the fight for better work­ing con­di­tions and improved safety in the mines. When their activist Frank Little gives blaz­ing speech­es and calls for a strike, he is bru­tal­ly lynched. The per­pe­tra­tors are never found, many union­ists are impris­oned for years, and laws are tight­ened, although work­ers did not use any violence.

AN INJURY TO ONE is a requiem for sol­i­dar­i­ty in which lan­guage, music, and imagery work togeth­er in a subtle chore­og­ra­phy. All evi­dence of the events has since been lost, the offi­cial his­to­ry writ­ten by the mining com­pa­ny. Travis Wilk­er­son arranges the few remain­ing pic­tures – a hand­ful of pho­tographs and film shots of the town and mining land­scape, news­pa­per arti­cles, and mug shots of union­ists – in a mon­tage, nar­rat­ing the story that begins with the dawn of indus­tri­al­iza­tion in a voice com­plete­ly void of preach­i­ness. Tra­di­tion­al miners’ songs break up the film into chap­ters, the lyrics appear­ing on screen (but not sung) in time with the music. Many dif­fer­ent com­plex strands of thought are art­ful­ly con­veyed using the sim­plest filmic means. Wilkerson’s thesis film project at CalArts (his advi­sors were Thom Ander­son, Hart­mut Bit­o­m­s­ki, and Billy Wood­ber­ry) was regard­ed as one of the best avant-garde films of the decade by the mag­a­zine Film Comment.

Travis Wilk­er­son geb. 1969 in Denver, USA, wuchs auf in Col­orado und Mon­tana. Er studierte Sprachen und Lit­er­atur, dann Film am Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of the Arts (M.F.A. in 2001). Eine Begeg­nung mit dem leg­endären kuban­is­chen Filmemach­er San­ti­a­go Alvarez bee­in­flusste ihn maßge­blich. Seit­dem macht er Filme in der Tra­di­tion des „Drit­ten Kinos“, in welchem poli­tis­ch­er Inhalt und Form eine untrennbare Ein­heit bilden. Seine Filme wurden auf inter­na­tionalen Fes­ti­vals und im Kun­stkon­text gezeigt. Wilk­er­son veröf­fentlicht auch Texte über Film und lehrt zurzeit am Vassar Col­lege, Pough­keep­sie, NY. Filme: ACCELERATED UNDER-DEVELOPMENT (1999), WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN? (2005), DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (2011), FRAGMENTS OF DISSOLUTION (part of FAR FROM AFGHANISTAN, 2012, see John Gian­vi­to), MACHINE GUN OR TYPEWRITER? (2015).


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