Travis Wilkersons deep-seated concern for American history is intelligently expressed through his experimental documentaries. He reconstructs the history of Butte, Montana, where capitalist interests in copper mining ran into direct conflict with the labor union movement. Wilkerson weaves a fascinating historical inquiry, moving between past and present, incorporating workers songs, company and town records, present-day images, and political analysis to create a portrait of union agitator Frank Little and a lament for the disastrous ecological consequences of the Butte mine. (Susan Oxtoby)
A word from Tënk
Between its inventive format and the power of its story, An Injury to One is certainly one of the greatest successes in historical and political documentary film of the past two decades—which may come as no surprise, given its international success. Plunging into capitalism’s criminal past to better illuminate its present, the memory exercise in which we’re engaged is resolutely militant in character.
Blending physical film manipulations (flares, foreground elements, grain, etc.) with digital effects, Travis Wilkerson constantly reinvents his 4:3 frame, varying the size and ratio of the shots he builds like an immense collage assembled in real time. His flair for playing with superposition, hidden elements and movement serves to highlight historical documents or recreate spaces over contemporary landscapes that are now little more than ruins. The insert titles also contribute to this visual ballet, acting as vital elements in the shots themselves, as well as in the editing.
The voiceover is gravelly, delivered in bursts, and almost continuously supported by a bewitching soundtrack with music from diverse groups ranging from folk to atmosphere, which nonetheless forms a coherent whole due to its shared instrumentation. For example, the film’s acoustic covers of traditional mining songs, with lyrics presented in insert titles, are a high point.
Filmmaker, producer, chicken farmer, and accountant