Zecca: Social Realism

Au pays noir
R: Ferdinand Zecca / Louis Nonguet. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1905

“Poor people who were able to work received no support. The working classes were forced to take on poorly-paid and dangerous jobs in order to survive. Mining accidents spread fear and terror among mining communities. Sensational special effects on the screen, such as firedamp explosions, helped reinforce demands by the labour unions and charitable organisations for safer working conditions and improved support for surviving dependants.
Mining accidents used to be part of daily life for miners: Pathé, the leading film company of the time, condemned this scandalous situation by releasing this melodramatic social reportage which was shot partly on location at a mining site and partly on a recreated set in a film studio.”
Screening the Poor
Trier University / Department of Media Studies

620-Au pays noir
Constantin Meunier (1831-1905): Au pays noir. About 1893

La grève
R: Ferdinand Zecca. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1904

During a strike, several workers are killed in a confrontation. The wife of one of them kills the factory owner. At her trial, the owner’s son asks for mercy, knowing that his father was wrong. Because of that the wife is freed.

>>> A Day in the Life of a Wigan Coal Miner