It is difficult to conceive of a finer title than the one that Cyril Schaublin came up with for his second film, which is about the political fervour that was seething under the surface of a peaceful, beautiful industrial town in Switzerland at the tail end of the 19th century.
There is a factory in that town, which is situated in a valley at the foot of the Jura Mountains, where individuals painstakingly put together watches by hand. They adjusted the minuscule wheel of balance, which is known as a “unrueh,” with the same type of scientific precision that the Swiss are famous for.
But the real crisis is developing all around them as the anarchist movement continues to grow and takes control of the plant and the town. Because of this, the workers, who are virtually entirely women, are pitted against the individuals in control, who keep everything running like clockwork and view people as moving parts in a capitalist machine.
The young watchmaker Josephine (Clara Gostynski) and the real-life Russian anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin are two of the people in the town who are active in the conflict, and the movie shifts its attention on them at various points throughout (Alexei Evstratov).
However, their stories are only a small part of a larger story that shows Western Europe on the brink of change, with the seeds being planted for the labour and feminist movements that would explode over the course of the following century. This larger story shows Western Europe on the verge of change.
As a result of this, Unrest can be considered both a political and a historical film. But in addition to that, it is very, which is very Swiss of them. It lacks the blazing rhetoric of famous socialist plays such as 1900 by Bernardo Bertolucci or Reds by Warren Beatty, neither of which are present in this work.
By employing non-professional performers and maintaining a low level of emotion, Schaublin is able to extract additional ideas from Robert Bresson. In addition, the possibility that Pyotr and Josephine are romantically involved is only alluded to by him. He was also influenced by the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, both of whom are directors from France.
They used Brechtian distancing techniques in their socialist fiction, in which the characters read their lines rather than saying them out loud. Even though the drama never really gets going, Schaublin keeps us interested with his detailed historical recreations and keen observations on how science, manufacturing, and technology affected the souls of both workers and owners. Even though the drama never really gets going, Schaublin keeps us interested.
Josephine and the other watchmakers are required to keep a close eye on the clock throughout the whole workday, and their every action is timed down to the second. This is an example of the quest for increased industrial efficiency that would later be referred to as the Fordist movement. In addition, the town itself is being timed as well. There are a number of distinct clocks, each of which has its own unique time signature; also, a telegraph message is sent out every hour to provide the exact time.
It would appear that anarchists are particularly curious about the role that humans play in this equation. They have devised a system that allows them to cooperate with one another and rely on one another, which enables them to fight for workers’ rights for everyone while still maintaining a strong feeling of community.
Pyotr, who initially presents himself at the workshop in the role of a visiting cartographer, is in reality a significant figure in the anarchist movement in Russia. In the years that followed, he became well-known for penning a number of tracts and publications, and the map that he’s producing is a comprehensive depiction of anarchy in the region.
It would appear that the city and Switzerland as a whole are in the midst of a significant political shift, and Schaublin demonstrates how the ruling elite is doing everything it can to maintain the status quo.
The managers and elected officials — who are all men, of course — use the friendly local police force and other methods to keep the revolution in check while the anarchists try to turn the tools of the capitalists against them by using telegrams to spread the word and photos as an early form of propaganda. In the meantime, the anarchists are using photographs as an early form of propaganda.
A significant portion of the difficulty that can be found in politics is either not seen or not expressed, or it is said in a low voice. In Unrest, there are no major battles, and the common people do not take up arms against the ruling class by forging their ploughshares into swords. The political upheavals here are being meticulously put together for the future in the same way that Josephine and the other women in the factory placed tiny pins in their correct positions in order to make the watch work.