An Injury to One

Lecture by Marilyn Fabe

Travis Wilkerson's experimental documentary addresses the Butte, Montana, lynching of Wobbly organizer Fred Little. Wilkerson's earlier Accelerated Development used the radical style of Santiago Alvarez to explore Cuban history; here he delves into the history of Montana as a story of modern capitalism. He analyzes Anaconda, the notoriously predatory copper mining company, detailing turn-of-the-century union organizing directed at its labor practices and modern-day environmental blight resulting from its policies. Both a lament and a call for action, An Injury to One is a work of historical inquiry, a portrait of a town, a person, and a company, and an example of a contextual study in which the parts reverberate with intelligence and complexity. Traversing past and present, culture and politics, bringing together archival documents and images of present-day Butte, miners' songs and Little's speeches, Wilkerson literally reframes within the image. This is both a stylistic device and a metaphor for challenging official histories with alternative perspectives.

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