Perhaps the most pointed hint at the film's attribution to the working class is in the court room when the judge fails to say, "May God have mercy on your souls," after reading the sentences of death. (Peter Weisman, Source)
Since the dawning of the industrial revolution, producing the stratification of socioeconomic status into a competitive class hierarchy never before seen, conflict theorists have appeared to define the unjust. From William Blake’s poetry to Karl Marx’ manifestos, from Bethlehem Steel strikes to the current Labor Party, from Fidel Castro to the Mexican Zapatista movement, from Lenin to Mao Tse Tung, from the Molly Maguires to Jimmy Hoffa, the desire to upgrade the conditions of the working class have had a continual role in justifying violence, providing an equilibrium to keep capital interests in check, motivated whole countries to gain newly instituted political leaders and formats of rule, even in offering some form of purpose for, identity with, and release of violent rage inside the tribal nature of humans in a world of disintegrating, or disintegrated, tribes.
The question of the new millennium might very well be whether or not humans can live without enemies. In a country, if not a world, with creature comforts easily secured, labor issues becoming obsolete, where will modern man direct his barbaric energy? The Molly Maguires were one such labor voice, if perceived this way, one such tribe (both causally and ethnically), and one such milestone, active from the 1860’s to the 1870’s. (Peter Weisman, Issue Essay: "Behold, The Molly Maguires Mystified" [x])
The Molly Maguires is a failure, nailed on its own aspirations to the tragic and the epic, yet it’s an impressive failure. (Kael 91)
The American mines still wait to be mined in American films. (Kauffman 91)
Walter Bernstein’s screenplay is a perfect model of the craft, some of the best movie writing in recent years. ("A Tale" 76)
Neither law, nor philosophy, nor reason, nor spiritual counsel has prevailed against this primitive element in man’s nature [revenge]. The upward path of civilization, and it has been upward, is twisted by it, leaving grim milestones in appalling quantity. (Lewis viii)
They were motivated not only by the working conditions, virtual slave circumstances which forced many to buy life’s necessities from factory stores, and their often starving families but also by a severe racism acted out against Irish Catholics in the market place, having traveled with them from Ireland. This time period is infamous for “Help Wanted -- Irish need not apply” signs. (Peter Weisman, Issue Essay: "Behold, The Molly Maguires Mystified" [x])
Those who perceive the past with an opinionated set of eyes are prone to exhibit said opinion in current cultural negotiations. The role of film creating reality, creating history, is fundamentally irrefutable. (Peter Weisman, Issue Essay: "Behold, The Molly Maguires Mystified" [x])
To understand the living, you’ve got to commune with the dead. (an old voo-doo saying spoken to Peter Weisman while in New Orleans)
The image shows action while the word records what most pay no heed to unless it is spoken, mingled with image, taught to the heart. Indeed, to teach with the mind is somewhat mathematical, logical; to teach with the heart, such as the voice, is genius; to teach with the image is sublime in recreating one’s paradigm in the student’s perception. The old cliché, “show me, don’t tell me” appears to be true when approaching film in creation of history. (Peter Weisman, Issue Essay: "Behold, The Molly Maguires Mystified" [x])
The right words are worth more than a hundred regiments of men. (Lenin)
The Molly Maguires were an ethnoreligious terrorist force active from the 1860’s to the 1870’s. Their role as a labor force is disputable, depending entirely on perception. It was within this period that the Pennsylvania anthracite coal regions saw a level of violence eclipsing the west’s gunslingers. (Peter Weisman, Historical Context: "The Molly Maguires" )
Copyright (c) 1999 by Peter A. Weisman, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.
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