Volker Schlondörff, who has produced his share of masterpieces, helms this chronicle of the Polish labor movement and the formation of the Solidarity union. While Strike is not a masterpiece, it is an interesting and informative film that documents an important and influential moment in history. Though Lech Walesa is largely seen as the originator of Solidarity, Strike illuminates the life of Anna Walentynowicz and her role in creating the union. She had an equally strong, if not stronger, presence in the movement as Walesa, but operated behind the scenes, while still exerting great influence. The film is a fictionalized version of her story and here she is named Agnieszka, but the filmmakers don’t stray too far from the historical record. The main omission is Walentynowicz’s split with Walesa and Solidarity, which occurred after the union was formed and after the timeframe of the film.
Without minimalizing the actual story told in Strike, Schlondörff fascination with Walentynowicz’s unheralded role in creating Solidarity could in part be a way to expose the inequities in his own profession and industry of choice. Creating a film is a collaborative effort, but directors, especially male directors, are largely credited as the authors of films they direct. Perhaps with Strike, Schlondörff is looking inward at injustices in his own life, as Agnieszka asks us to do at the film’s closing.