January 30, 2022 by shoenerca
This scene towards the end of Kuhle Wampe is the call to action. It explicitly portrays the themes of worker solidarity and collective power that Brecht was building on throughout the rest of the film.
Brecht uses alienation to get the viewer to think for themselves about the events occurring on the screen and to draw their own conclusions. In this scene, he does this by not including any music over the dialogue, which results in an eerie silence at times. He also uses some unnatural and unfamiliar angles including the high-angle shot when the worker is pointing out well-off passengers who won’t change the world and the low-angle, close-up shot of the man who asks, “who will change the world?” A final way Brecht achieves the alienation effect is through the lack of emotion the actors show, which is particularly evident when Gerda says, “those who don’t like it.” This line is the call to action, but Gerda does not sound nor look particularly passionate, angry, or hopeful.
Brecht also wanted film to provoke dialogue and action. He provokes dialogue by calling out “fence-sitters” who do nothing to help change the world. Next, he empowers the working class by reminding them that only they can change the world, if they so choose, because the wealthy and the content will not do it for them. Finally, he includes a purposeful song at the end about solidarity. The song about solidarity and the assertion that only the discontented will change the world provokes both dialogue and action among the film’s viewers.