[Marxism] Our Daily Bread

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 9 11:49:46 MDT 2006

Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was a muck-raking novel that took aim at the 
meatpacking industry during its most dangerous, unregulated and filthy 
infancy. Exactly, 100 years after its publication, we can now see a 
documentary by Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter that depicts a safer, 
more efficient and sterile work-place. But for all of that, “Our Daily 
Bread” is just as disturbing.

Using the cinéma vérité techniques of Frederick Wiseman, Geyrhalter takes 
us into the assembly-lines of meat and poultry factories, as well as the 
greenhouses and fields of agribusiness, where Taylorism reigns supreme.

“Our Daily Bread” studiously avoids editorializing of any sort. The images 
themselves are sufficient to reveal food production as a mix of Charlie 
Chaplin’s “Modern Times” and Frederick Wiseman’s “Meat,” a 1976 documentary 
about the livestock business that “Our Daily Bread” clearly reflects. The 
main difference between Wiseman and Geyrhalter is that the latter eschews 
sensationalism of all sorts. While his film might lack the visceral impact 
of Wiseman’s, it is arguably more persuasive because it depicts the food 
industry as somehow inextricably linked to advances in technology and 
science. Geyrhalter challenges the audience to reject the paradigm set 
forth in his film. In so doing, they might be rejecting civilization as we 
know it.




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