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“NO GOD NO MASTER” film about Italian anarchists to be filmed in Milwaukee
07/22/2009, 7:01 PM
Filed under: Milwaukee area

According to onmilwaukee.com:

“‘No God, No Master’ is the story of U.S. Bureau of Investigation agent William Flynn who is swept into the world of homegrown terrorism during the Red Scare of the early 1900s. His journey into the culture of anarchism sets the stage for a timely drama with resounding parallels to the politics and issues of contemporary society. This action-driven feature film is the story of one man’s odyssey into a universe of power, greed and corruption, forcing him to confront the very principles and values that make him an American.”


Milwaukee was chosen apparently not because Galleanist’s, insurrectionary Italian anarchists, blew up a police station here and regularly instigated riots, but because Milwaukee is said to resemble the early architechture of New York.  The link to the Galleanists is still there in that the film focuses on the anarchist movement during the Palmer raids and early red scare, which can’t be mentioned without talking about Luigi Galleani, Sacco and Vanzetti and the bombing of Wall Street by Mario Buda (also believed to have planted the bomb in Milwaukee which killed 11 police.)  Anyway, there’s a film being filmed in Milwaukee about Anarchists.  The question of its bias or the favorability of the content is a banal point. What’s significant is that it’s being made at all?  Are anarchists interesting again? (positioned once again as irreconcilable monsters who haunt society) There is enough of a gulf between the bomb throwing firebrand of the 1910’s and the anti-globalization activist of today to say that this raw material for a film can not be said to be rooted in the contemporary anarchist milieu.  Perhaps the content of the anarchist lies in its categorization of a potential threat to society, as identity… Especially if it’s frozen in the past.

The content of the call to “extirpate the miserable brood!” remains heartwarming.

If interested, Paul Avrich’s book Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background is an excellent history of Italian anarchists (the largest ethnic grouping of anarchists to have existed) and the Palmer raids.


4 Comments so far
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I have to think that as much as hollywood and the film industry are businesses that make films/products/”culture” based on what’s expected to profit most, that directors/writers/producers like to fancy themselves as artists of some sort. This being the case, they’re likely making films like this and ‘battle in seattle’ because they can’t help but be a bit fascinated or excited by these stories that involved regular people transcending the banal.

Unfortunately, because films must pass through so many editors and satisfy certain interests, they usually get bent in ways to support the contemporary dominant paradigm or at least don’t prod to hard at the ‘sphere of legitimate controversy’. Even so, I think it’s worth questioning whether even a truly “independent” film released in theaters could really agitate people on a large scale. Perhaps the theater experience conditions a certain response regardless of how inflammatory the content.

Perhaps still the anarchist/”radical”/self-described whatever is once again being courted as a target market.


Comment by Rob

Even talking about the industry, about media, is fairly banal in the way that it is approached. Through the media, capital produces an image of its reality, and of the reality that will allow it to reproduce the dominant relations of the social order.

No, a film produced by Hollywood is incapable of “agitating” people in any meaningful way. You can make films about blowing up parliament as “V for Vendetta” did, but what does this translate to?

Would it make any sense to spend millions on a film for a target market that composes less than 100,000?

Comment by toutniquer

If they can wrangle a video game series, soundtrack, and best selling novel, certainly!

Comment by Rob

Just noting that the “star”, who is playing the FBI agent has been a staple in John Sayles’ movies . . . “Return of the Secaucus 7”, “Matewan”, etc., movies which are tributes to radical history. They seem generally sympathetic, but not polemical.

Comment by Anonymous

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