The Working Class Goes to Heaven

  • Dir: Elio Petri

  • Italy, 1971, 125min

  • Cast: Gian Maria Volontè, Mariangela Melato

Petri ventures fearlessly into Kafka territory with this film, which he once described as “propaganda” for the proletariat. Lulu (Volontè) is a highly productive machine operator at a manufacturing plant, where employees sweat under questionable safety conditions, company managers show little regard for their staff, union leaders’ loyalties are often at odds with the workers they represent, and activists denounce the laborers’ slave-like treatment. After Lulu is injured on the job and laid off, he goes through a radical political awakening. More somber than Petri’s other films, the film delivers caustic observations on workers’ rights, corporate greed and the triviality of consumerism.

1972 Cannes Film Festival, Palme d’Or




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