The Individual versus the State
Starring: Katharina Thalbach, Andrzej
Chyra, Dominique Horwitz,
Andrezej Grabowski, and
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: Laemmle/Zeller Films
Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Executive Producer: Wolfgang Plehn
Producer: Jürgen Haase
Writer: Andreas Pflüger
Address Comments To:Laemmle/Zeller Films
522 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Seldom in history is an individual used to overthrow tyranny. STRIKE tells the story of one person who was so used by God. In the movie, she is called Agnieszka, a small, plain, hard-working woman in Communist Poland with an illegitimate child. She is so hard working that she has received the Communist labor party award for best worker at the Gdansk shipyard for 10 years in a row, but she is nobody’s fool. She refuses to join the Party or submit to the peer pressure not to work hard. She is a woman of Catholic faith who prays fervently and frequently.
The plot thickens when some of her friends die in a ship fire caused by the unreasonable expectations of the Party bosses who tried to speed up the launch of a ship under construction by filling the ship with fuel while the exhausted, overworked workers were welding. Concerned about the widows, Agnieszka writes a report setting forth exactly what happened so the wives can collect their deceased spouses benefits. By doing so, she inadvertently confronts the Party and the State. She is taken into the union leader’s office. He explains to her that the records show it was the workers’ fault and that the workers weren’t working overtime. He asks her to withdraw her report. She refuses to do so, and the State puts mounting pressure on her. Her son’s admission to college inexplicably is denied. She is arrested and beaten up. Unbent, she is finally fired.
One by one, her fellow workers go on strike, and eventually the whole country goes on strike against the Communist tyranny. Lech Walesa negotiates a solution where all the strikers get more money and Agnieszka gets her job back. She refuses and says they must stand against this tyranny. The rest is history.
STRIKE has a lot of positive Christian virtues and references. Not only is the church a prime mover in the movie, but Christian faith also sustains Agnieszka during her darkest hours. She refuses to take revenge. She helps one of the Party bosses when he is being beaten up in spite of the beatings she has suffered. She refuses to compromise, but also refuses to see another tyranny take place. She works hard and tries to do the right thing. Marring this positive portrait is her illegitimate son, and the fact she has a relationship with a man before she marries him.
The real Agnieszka has said that these do not reflect the true story, and the real Agnieszka says that she was not illiterate and that she was always a good Catholic. Dramatically, however, the movie portrayal heightens the David versus Goliath story. And, knowing all of the historical facts before watching the movie never interferes with the viewing because the movie itself is so powerful. There’s also been criticism of the German actress does not fit the role, but from the eyes of someone in America, she did a great performance.
Although STRIKE is not a movie for children, it is a movie that MOVIEGUIDE® commends highly for anyone age 13 and up. It is one of the clearest portraits of the evils of Communism and of the power of God working in an individual. In that sense, it is reminiscent of AMAZING GRACE, but even more dramatic in the recreation of a miracle.
During the years represented in the movie, many of us in America thought that Communism would never be overthrown. The battle portrayed in STRIKE was waged not on the battlefield but in the humble actions of a few faithful individuals who brought Communism to its knees. This is nothing less than a miracle and nothing less than a testimony to God’s grace available to anyone who calls upon God’s name.
STRIKE has a lot of positive Christian virtues and references. Not only is the church a prime mover in the movie, but Christian faith also sustains Agnieszka during her darkest hours. She also refuses to take revenge. STRIKE is not a movie for children, but it is a movie that MOVIEGUIDE® commends highly for anyone age 13 and up. It is one of the clearest portraits of the evils of Communism and of the power of God working in an individual to defeat evil. The battle portrayed in STRIKE was waged not on the battlefield but in the humble actions of a few faithful individuals who brought Communism to its knees.