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  • Forklift-Conflicts


    Jörg Markowitsch

    In the Aisles (2018) by Thomas Stuber is the ultimate warehouse-worker feature film. There has never been so much 'workplace' featured in a movie, set in a wholesale market, with so much insight into learning the ropes of an unskilled job. On top of that, romance.

    Back in 2019, I took a short break and started a trai­nee­ship as an unskilled worker in a wholesale plant nursery, suddenly the feelings came flooding back. Those that you only go through in a new, unfa­mi­li­ar job during the first days and weeks.

    In the German feature film “In den Gängen” (In the Aisles, 2018), this special emotional world of those starting out in unskilled jobs can relive it, if one so chooses. Christian, the prot­ago­nist of the film, played out­stan­din­gly by the ‘German Joaquin Phoenix’, Franz Rogowski, has it literally written all over his face as he starts his new job in the wholesale market: Curiosity, dread, uncer­tain­ty, exci­te­ment, fear, enthu­si­asm, desire, and frus­tra­ti­on. For this he was rightly awarded with the German Film Award for Best Leading Actor in 2019.

    It is an immersion into a new microcosm with its own lin­gu­is­tic world. “Fetch me the CC!” was what I was told on my very first day, during which I had a constant question mark lingering on my forehead. CC stood for “Container Centralen” and it was a trolley with adjus­ta­ble shelves that was mainly used in the plant business. For your infor­ma­ti­on: 80% of the work in a wholesale nursery is warehouse work.

    It is not the CC that makes Christian break into a sweat, but the lack of dexterity in handling the “Ameise” (‘Ant’, an electric pallet truck named after the brand).  But this unit is still off limits for him. ‘Forklift conflicts’, the fight over who gets to drive the forklift, are part of everyday life in the aisles of the wholesale market.

    The film actually takes place almost exclu­si­ve­ly within the wholesale market (i.e. in the warehouse, office, lounge, the loading ramp, and in the car park) and devotes a lot of time to the realistic depiction of Christian’s inst­ruc­tion; espe­cial­ly by his older colleague Bruno, played by Peter Kurth (known as the chief inspector in “Babylon Berlin”).

    Only the theory-training for the forklift licence feels scripted but rewards the spectator with a giggle. Com­ple­te­ly intimi­da­ted young men in a class situation find them­sel­ves exposed to the pedago­gi­cal­ly ques­tion­ab­le gory joke of the trainer and have to endure an inst­ruc­tio­n­al film with a double ampu­ta­ti­on. The take away: Dis­re­gar­ding the rules ends in a torrent of blood.

    The ban on riding on the forklift is one such regu­la­ti­on, we learn from the trainer. Only to see Christian driving Marion (Sandra Hüller, the ‘German Cate Blanchett’) on the forklift in the following scene. Welcome back to the reality of work. Workers always have their own inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the rules and make their own laws.  Christian and Marion’s forklift ride together is then something like the climax of the tender romance between the two, the actual theme of the film, of course.

    Love stories that take place almost exclu­si­ve­ly in the workplace are probably the exception rather than the rule in the cinema despite being the bread and butter of real work­pla­ces. Stuber’s film shows impres­si­ve­ly that this can have its charm too and at the same time be suitable as a milieu to study.

     

    "In the Aisles", Trailer, German 

    "In the Aisles", Trailer, German with English Subtitles 

    Still, In the Aisles

    In the Aisles

    In the Aisles

    Tags

    Forklift-Conflicts

    Jörg Markowitsch

    In the Aisles (2018) by Thomas Stuber is the ultimate warehouse-worker feature film. There has never been so much 'workplace' featured in a movie, set in a wholesale market, with so much insight into learning the ropes of an unskilled job. On top of that, romance.

    Back in 2019, I took a short break and started a trai­nee­ship as an unskilled worker in a wholesale plant nursery, suddenly the feelings came flooding back. Those that you only go through in a new, unfa­mi­li­ar job during the first days and weeks.

    In the German feature film “In den Gängen” (In the Aisles, 2018), this special emotional world of those starting out in unskilled jobs can relive it, if one so chooses. Christian, the prot­ago­nist of the film, played out­stan­din­gly by the ‘German Joaquin Phoenix’, Franz Rogowski, has it literally written all over his face as he starts his new job in the wholesale market: Curiosity, dread, uncer­tain­ty, exci­te­ment, fear, enthu­si­asm, desire, and frus­tra­ti­on. For this he was rightly awarded with the German Film Award for Best Leading Actor in 2019.

    It is an immersion into a new microcosm with its own lin­gu­is­tic world. “Fetch me the CC!” was what I was told on my very first day, during which I had a constant question mark lingering on my forehead. CC stood for “Container Centralen” and it was a trolley with adjus­ta­ble shelves that was mainly used in the plant business. For your infor­ma­ti­on: 80% of the work in a wholesale nursery is warehouse work.

    It is not the CC that makes Christian break into a sweat, but the lack of dexterity in handling the “Ameise” (‘Ant’, an electric pallet truck named after the brand).  But this unit is still off limits for him. ‘Forklift conflicts’, the fight over who gets to drive the forklift, are part of everyday life in the aisles of the wholesale market.

    The film actually takes place almost exclu­si­ve­ly within the wholesale market (i.e. in the warehouse, office, lounge, the loading ramp, and in the car park) and devotes a lot of time to the realistic depiction of Christian’s inst­ruc­tion; espe­cial­ly by his older colleague Bruno, played by Peter Kurth (known as the chief inspector in “Babylon Berlin”).

    Only the theory-training for the forklift licence feels scripted but rewards the spectator with a giggle. Com­ple­te­ly intimi­da­ted young men in a class situation find them­sel­ves exposed to the pedago­gi­cal­ly ques­tion­ab­le gory joke of the trainer and have to endure an inst­ruc­tio­n­al film with a double ampu­ta­ti­on. The take away: Dis­re­gar­ding the rules ends in a torrent of blood.

    The ban on riding on the forklift is one such regu­la­ti­on, we learn from the trainer. Only to see Christian driving Marion (Sandra Hüller, the ‘German Cate Blanchett’) on the forklift in the following scene. Welcome back to the reality of work. Workers always have their own inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the rules and make their own laws.  Christian and Marion’s forklift ride together is then something like the climax of the tender romance between the two, the actual theme of the film, of course.

    Love stories that take place almost exclu­si­ve­ly in the workplace are probably the exception rather than the rule in the cinema despite being the bread and butter of real work­pla­ces. Stuber’s film shows impres­si­ve­ly that this can have its charm too and at the same time be suitable as a milieu to study.

     

    "In the Aisles", Trailer, German

    "In the Aisles", Trailer, German with English Subtitles

    Still, In the Aisles

    In the Aisles

    In the Aisles

    Tags


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    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.