An Injury to One | Chicago Reader

An Injury to One

Academics have long been prone to misapply the adjective “Brechtian” to B movies and sterile avant-garde exercises alike, but Travis Wilkerson's experimental documentary about the 1917 murder of Frank Little, a radical union organizer who fought Montana mining interests, is a film that genuinely merits the term, even if it's not a drama in the conventional sense. Working on what he terms a “microbudget,” Wilkerson turns necessity into virtue: in lieu of escapist reenactments and period-costumed crowd scenes, he uses stark Montana vistas, combined with titles and narration, to argue that the depredations of capitalism lie behind every ruined landscape. His story's power is amplified by his technique of first delivering an image and then providing its context—footage taken from the rear of a moving car is followed by the information that Little was dragged behind an automobile prior to his lynching.

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