Movies Relevant to the Cause of Socialism

The following list of movies was compiled by members of Bozeman DSA. These films are recommended because they have some elements that promote class consciousness, deal with socialist themes, or are somehow concerned with the cause of justice for all people.

If you have suggestions to be added to this list, please contact us right away!

13th is a documentary film which explores the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;” it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.

The Army of Crime (French: L’Armée du crime) is a French drama-war film directed based on a story by Serge Le Péron. The film deals with the development of the Manouchian Group, a 23-member resistance unit led by an Armenian exile.

A Bug’s Life is a computer-animated comedy film which involves a misfit ant, Flik, who is looking for “tough warriors” to save his colony from a protection racket run by Hopper’s gang of grasshoppers. The film was initially inspired by Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper.

Cradle Will Rock is a historical drama film which fictionalizes the events surrounding the development of the musical The Cradle Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein. It adapts history to create an account of the original production, bringing in other stories of the time to produce a social commentary on the role of art and power in the 1930s, particularly amidst the struggles of the labor movement at the time and the corresponding appeal of socialism and communism among many intellectuals, artists and working-class people in the same period.

Eugene V. Debs is a spoken-word audio documentary with accompanying slide show, written and directed by a young Bernard (Bernie) Sanders, about Debs’ legacy in 1979, as part of his work for the American People’s Historical Society. Shortly thereafter, he began his own political career, which would take him from the mayor’s office of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981, to the U.S. Senate in 2006. A complete transcript of the recording is included in liner notes.

The Gilligan Manifesto is a documentary film about Gilligan’s Island, the 1964 television sit-com which depicted seven Americans living in an analogue of a post-apocalyptic world where the survivors have to rebuild civilization. Interviews with the show’s creator and some of the surviving actors, as well from professors from Harvard, reveal that Gilligan’s Island was deliberately designed to be dismissed as low brow comedy in order to celebrate Marxism and lampoon Western democratic constructs.

I am Cuba is a series of four vignettes narrated by Cuba herself. Two vignettes represent Cuba in the throes of capitalist imperialism, one in the city and one in the country, as Cubans are forced into exploitative labor to satisfy American tourists and aristocratic landowners. The last two represent Cuba in the tumult of revolution.

An Injury to One provides a corrective—and absolutely compelling—glimpse of a particularly volatile moment in early 20th century American labor history: the rise and fall of Butte, Montana. Specifically, it chronicles the mysterious death of Wobbly organizer Frank Little, a story whose grisly details have taken on a legendary status in the state. Much of the extant evidence is inscribed upon the landscape of Butte and its surroundings. Thus, a connection is drawn between the unsolved murder of Little, and the attempted murder of the town itself.

Knock Down the House is a documentary film which revolves around the 2018 congressional primary campaigns of four progressive Democrats who ran in that year’s midterm elections: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DSA member and endorsed by DSA), Amy Vilela (DSA member), Cori Bush (DSA member and endorsed by DSA), and Paula Jean Swearengin (endorsed by Justice Democrats and Bernie Sanders).

Land and Freedom (Spanish: Tierra y Libertad) narrates the story of David Carr, an unemployed worker and member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, who decides to fight in the Spanish Civil War for the Republican faction, an anti-rebel coalition of Socialists, Communists and Anarchists. There is a noteworthy similarity between the story narrated in this film and George Orwell’s book Homage to Catalonia, in which the author wrote one of the more famous accounts of the war, that of his own experience as a volunteer in the ILP Contingent, part of the POUM militia.

Matewan is a drama film which dramatizes the events of the Battle of Matewan, a coal miners’ strike in 1920 in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia.

Norma Rae is a drama film based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton, and follows Norma Rae Webster, a factory worker with little formal education in North Carolina who becomes involved in trade union activities at the textile factory where she works after her and her co-workers’ health is compromised due to poor working conditions.

Pride is a British historical comedy-drama. Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign.

Reds is an epic historical drama film about the life and career of John Reed, the journalist and writer who chronicled the Russian Revolution in his 1919 book Ten Days That Shook the World.

Rosa Luxemburg is a 1986 West German drama film about the titular Polish socialist and Marxist, who dreams about revolution during the era of German Wilhelminism. While Luxemburg campaigns relentlessly for her beliefs, getting repeatedly imprisoned in Germany as well as in Poland, she spars with lovers and comrades until Luxemburg is assassinated by Freikorps for her leadership in the Spartacist uprising after World War I in 1919.

Sorry to Bother You is a dark comedy film which follows a young Black telemarketer who adopts a white accent to succeed at his job. Swept into a corporate conspiracy, he must choose between profit and joining his activist friends to organize labor.

Storm over Asia (Russian: Потомок Чингисхана, Potomok Chingiskhana, “The Heir to Genghis Khan”) is a 1928 Soviet film which is the final film in Pudovkin’s “revolutionary trilogy”, alongside Mother (1926) and The End of St. Petersburg (1927). The film concerns itself with a distorted, fictionalized British occupation of Southeastern Siberia and Northern Tibet. The British and the French had supported Russia on a massive scale with war materials during World War I. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, it looked as though much of that material would fall into the hands of the Germans. Under this pretext, Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War began, with the United Kingdom and France sending troops into Russian ports. There were violent confrontations with troops loyal to the Bolsheviks.

They Live is a science-fiction action thriller film based on the short story Eight O’Clock in the Morning by Ray Nelson. The film follows an unnamed drifter who discovers through special sunglasses that the ruling class are aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to consume, breed, and conform to the status quo via subliminal messages in mass media.

If you have suggestions to be added to this list, please contact us right away!