Friday, May 01, 2009

Wessen Welt ist die Welt?

It being the first of May and all (which doesn't mean much in the UK, where Labour Day was turned into a pragmatic May bank holiday in, I believe, 1871, let alone in the USA, where all public holidays are corrupted into bloody sales days anyway), I thought I'd post something appropriate.

Here is Hans Eisler's "Lied von der Solidarität" in a scene from the 1932 film - scripted by Bertolt Brecht - Kuhle Wampe:

It is a very wonderful tune, that - and a great frame. It reminds me of a passage in Walter Greenwood's Love on the Dole (1933), in which one of the characters, the (as yet) naive Harry Hardcastle, contemplates the workers at Marlowe's, the local factory, whom he yearns to join. There's a similar sense of distance, of a world removed from the eyes of the beholder:
In a moment this silence would be shattered. Shattered by the influx of the vast concourse of men congregated outside the walls. Before six o'clock the twelve thousand of them would pass through the gates. They crammed the wide thoroughfare, a black mass of restlessness; crammed, saving a strip of roadway kept clear for the frequently arriving, bell-clanging tramcars full of more overalled men. The air stank of oily clothes, reeked with it and tobacco smoke, and buzzed with conversation, with week-end support.

How easily, negligently, these men wore their supreme importance; how infinitely, ineffably superior these gods of the machine and forge were to mere pushers of pens!
Spoiler warning: Harry will, in the course of the novel, be disabused of his idealisation of factory work. Of course.

This version of the song, sung by Ernst Busch, is even better than the one above:

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