Marin Karmitz – Coup pour coup AKA Blow for Blow (1972)


The film describes a strike in a French textile factory, when the striking workers occupy the factory. The title translates as, “Blow for Blow”, as in a fight.

“A movie which must have scared lots of people for, to my knowledge, TV screened it for the first time this very year; in the theaters, its release was secret and anyway it would have certainly failed, since it completely refused the star system (which many so called subversive movies in the Wake of the events of May 68 did not avoid: ‘Tout Va Bien ” by His Majesty Godard starred Yves Montand and Jane Fonda). The final cast and credits do show a collective work: the non-Professional (in the majority) and professional actors are treated on an equal footing with the technicians, the screenwriters and the director .

Far from Godard’s intellectual abstract didactics,” Coup Pour Coup” is close to documentary (cinema verite) and some entire scenes seem to have been improvised .

In a textile factory, women are exploited by the local boss, MR Boursac (what a name: “purse bag”!); the Tycoon divides and rules, sitting comfortably in his desirable mansion: his foremen (and forewoman: only one!)throw their weight around;tired of being treated like slaves ,the workers rebel: the strikers have occupied the place and they take the boss hostage, in spite of some older workers’ reluctance. It was the time of women’s lib’s coming of age and thus enormously significant: their husbands generally support them but some of them still show a macho attitude (“who’s gonna cook my steak for lunch?). It’s interesting to notice the farmer’s solidarity who sells his milk at a cost price (how amazed the woman are, when they compare it with the price they pay in the supermarkets).

No star, no central character, the crowds are the heroes, in the grand tradition of Eisenstein; the director is no match for the Russian master, but his movie is never dull and can be considered a time capsule of the post – May 68 era .”

Subtitles:English, Portuquese