Archive of films The Working Class Goes to Heaven / La classe operaia va in paradiso

1971, 115 min

Section: Tribute to Elio Petri
Year: 2014

Assembly-line worker Lulù Massa (Gian Maria Volonté) is an individualist who works at a frenetic pace. That is, until an injury transforms his view of the life he has led. With his usual penetration and cynicism, Petri explores the workers’ ability to perceive the monotony of the working process and of their own existence. Grand Prix ex aequo at Cannes 1972.


Lulù Massa (Gian Maria Volonté) is an independent-minded worker who spends shift after shift on an assembly line. He, like everyone else, is paid per unit, but unlike the others he keeps breaking records – to the satisfaction of his superiors and the ill will of his coworkers and the union. The tempo is frenetic and the risk of injury plain enough. When it does happen, the trauma changes Lulù’s take on the world. A strike is inevitable. "I felt it important to shoot a film about how the decision to strike takes shape inside a worker’s mind. It sprang from the idea that monotonous, long-term work on an assembly line turns people into slaves who have no idea what happens to the products they make,” said Petri. The confrontation between Petri’s picture, produced in a country of armchair leftists, and viewers of a festival held in parts of the former Eastern Bloc, seems exceptionally challenging. But Petri’s purpose, somewhat inconvenient even for the domestic Left, is crystal clear, and it would be misguided to overly latch onto the perception of the term "working class” as experienced in such regions. With his usual penetration and cynicism, Petri investigates how capable its members are of perceiving the conditions they work in, and to what degree that realization is blocked by "factory discipline” and the fear of losing their jobs and their very identity. Co-awarded the top prize with Rosi’s The Mattei Affair at the Cannes film festival in 1972.


Istituto Luce Cinecitta Srl
, 001 73, Rome

Movietime Srl
via Nicola Ricciotti 11, 00195, Rome
Tel: + 39 06 321 1549, +39 06 322 6709
Fax: +39 06 360 009 50

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Elio Petri
Director: Elio Petri
Screenplay: Elio Petri, Ugo Pirro
Dir. of Photography: Luigi Kuveiller
Music: Ennio Morricone
Editor: Ruggero Mastroianni
Producer: Ugo Tucci
Production: Euro International Films
Cast: Gian Maria Volonté, Mariangela Melato, Gino Pernice, Luigi Diberti, Donato Castellaneta
Contact: Istituto Luce Cinecitta Srl, Movietime Srl


Paola Pegoraro


Rainer J. Hanshe


Milena Gregor

Film Institution Rep.


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