An Injury To One
Direcetd by Travis Wilkerson
I have a certain amount of class rage. I don’t have any complaints about my own life. Whatever hardships, pain, loss, troubles, indignities, and so on, that I might have endured, I regard as a natural part of human life, and a relatively privileged existence I’ve had, really, especially for one who would be considered most definitely underpriveleged in this culture. I feel lucky and always have. But I do have a certain amount of class rage.
What this film does is endorse my rage, pure and simple. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that An Injury To One is about the murder of IWW activist Frank Little in Butte, Montana in 1917. Who did it? That’s what the film is about. And why they did it. And what else they did. And what that means.
What does it mean?
I don’t know. I don’t think there is a reason or a meaning for everything that happens to me, or for everything that I do, or, for anything else, necessarily. I do think that there are those who would rule us all, and don't mind what they do in order to achieve that. I love this film because it confirms just how serious all of this is, for me, more serious than my own rage. Whatever my own rage is.
An Injury to One takes me out of myself, just as looking up at a big sky full of stars takes me out of myself and into something bigger and more profound. The struggle for such pleasures to be contained in the context of a meaningful life for all is not a hopeless one. And this film reminds us, should we need it, of the penalties that can be paid by those who fight for it.
The story of Butte, Montana, of the Anaconda Mining Company, and of the Wobbly organizer Frank Little, is a telling account of a significant moment in American labor history. It is given flavor by the involvement of Dashiell Hammett as a Pinkerton detective in events related to Frank Little's murder and possibly in the murder itself. Clearly, there was some inspiration for Red Harvest here, if inspiration is the right word. The formal beauty of An Injury to One somehow transcends the despair that is intrinsic to its story. There is music by Will Oldham, Jim O'Rourke and others, contrubting to that formal beauty.
Unfortunately, An Injury to One does not seem to be available commercially, except for a direct purchase from Icarus Films at $390 for a DVD or VHS recording. I was just lucky to have been curious enough to record it when it played on the Sundance Channel, last year, I believe, or, possibly 2005,