The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
The Snows of Kilimanjaro is the most poignant political parable that should be required viewing for all those socialists who've lost their way in compromising with the system
Based upon a '60s song by Pascal Danel from Victor Hugo's poem Les Pauvres Gens it has nothing to do with Ernest Hemingway's short story, even less the film.
While Hemingway's character was concerned with existential self-reflection, Robert Guediguian and Jean-Louis Miles's script suggests we reflect on a more social scenario.
It opens with a CGT union meeting at the dockgates, with shop steward Michel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) organising a lottery for what the number-crunchers dub downsizing.
Being fair, he includes his own name and is duly laid off, after which his loving wife Marie Claire (Ariane Ascaride) organises a party for him, with tickets from the family to travel to see Kilimanjaro.
All's well with the world until the couple are robbed, an act that proves a major challenge to their beliefs, not least the idea of the values of socialist consciousness.
Without spoiling the twist in the tail, their crisis is prompted when one of their attackers is identified as a fellow docker, whose excuse is that his needs are more urgent since he has two siblings to provide for.
But having reported the incident Michel gets second thoughts. He risks a rift with his family and friends but not his wife, who has her own plans to care for the two children.
Essentially, Michel is a communist living a comfortable lifestyle fought for over the decades while the younger generation neither know nor care since they're the children of capitalist values.
As such, The Snows Of Kilimanjaro is a reflection on the success and failures of the days of the communist-socialist alliance in France and the subsequent compromise that contributed to creating the current capitalist crisis
Ranging through the emotions as the couple consider their options it's unashamedly a utopian film, since it reflects the spirit of Michel's hero Jean Juares - "an excess of heart."
Hopefully it will also reflect the growing culture of resistance to capitalism and the realisation that change demands compassion.