Workers Leaving the Factory

Harun Farocki


    Workers Leaving the Factory – such was the title of the first cinema film ever shown in public. For 45 seconds, this still existent sequence depicts workers at the photographic products factory in Lyon owned by the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière hurrying, closely packed, out of the shadows of the factory gates and into the afternoon sun. Only here, in departing, are the workers visible as a social group. But where are they going? To a meeting? To the barricades? Or simply home?

    These questions have preoccupied generations of documentary filmmakers. For the space before the factory gates has always been the scene of social conflicts. And furthermore, this sequence has become an icon of the narrative medium in the history of the cinema.

    In his documentary essay of the same title, Harun Farocki explores this scene right through the history of film. The result of this effort is a fascinating cinematographic analysis in the medium of cinematography itself, ranging in scope from Chaplin’s Modern Times to Fritz Lang’sMetropolis to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone!. Farocki’s film shows that the Lumière brothers’ sequence already carries within itself the germ of a foreseeable social development: the eventual disappearance of this form of industrial labor.

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    January 9, 1944 — born in Nový Jicin (Neutitschein), at that time Sudetengau, today Czech Republic.

    1966 – 1968 Admission to the just opened Berlin Film Adacemy, DFFB.

    1966 — Marriage with Ursula Lefkes.

    1968 — Birth of the daughters Annabel Lee and Larissa Lu.

    1974 – 1984 Author and editor of the magazine Filmkritik , Munich.

    1998 – 1999 Speaking about Godard / Von Godard sprechen, New York / Berlin. (Together with Kaja Silverman).

    1993 – 1999 Visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

    2001 — Marriage with Antje Ehmann.

    Since 1966 — more than 100 productions for Television or Cinema: Children’s TV, Documentary Films, Essay Films, Story Films.

    Since 1996  — various solo- and group exhibitions in Museums and Galleries. 2007 with Deep Play participation at documenta 12.

    Since 2004  — Visiting Professor, 2006 – 2011 full Professorship at the Academy of Art, Vienna.

    2011 – 2014 — longterm project Labour in a Single Shot, together with Antje Ehmann.

    July 30, 2014 — died near Berlin.