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The Internationale

The Internationale

THE INTERNATIONALE draws on people's stories of an emotionally charged radical song (the long-time anthem of socialism and communism) to celebrate the relationship between music and social change, and to evaluate the uncertain fate of once thriving movements of the left.

The film chronicles the history of the song written in 1871, at the fall of the Paris Commune, by Eugene Pottier. The lyrics are a rallying cry for all the oppressed and exploited people of the world to rise up and overthrow their masters. After a melody was added a few years later by a French factory worker, Pierre Degeyter, The Internationale spread throughout France, Europe and the world.

Using rare archival footage, the film traces the development and meanings of the song before and after the Russian Revolution, during the Great Depression in the U.S. and the Civil War in Spain, and since the fall of the Soviet Union, Tiananmen Square, and the end of the Cold War.

The film includes performances and interviews with musicians and activists from around the world, including Billy Bragg and Pete Seeger, and people from the U.S., Israel, the Philippines, China, and the Soviet Union.

Exploring relationships between music, history and social change, THE INTERNATIONALE is a serious but often irreverent meditation on socialism, idealism, and the power of music in people's lives.

'An impressive performance! THE INTERNATIONALE traces the cultural history of the stirring anthem that has offered inspiration to social and political activists for more than a century now. Miller manages both skillfully and insightfully to document roughly the first hundred years of a worthy subject resonant with profound social, cultural, and historical value. A moving... and compelling film.'-Journal of Film and History

'HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all age groups and classroom situations, as an example of the power that one song can engender throughout history and among different peoples and situations.'-Educational Media Reviews Online

'A beautiful documentary that shows the part music plays in social change. Awesome!'-The Michigan Observer and Eccentric

'[A] striking documentary! Tells the absorbing history of how one song can represent both freedom and oppression, sometimes at the exact same time.'-Michigan Daily

'What a remarkable film! THE INTERNATIONALE takes us on a lyrical journey from the Paris Commune to the collapse of Soviet Communism, from the slums of Kingston Jamaica to Tiananmen Square, in search of what might be the only song to change the world. If the song never moved you, I guarantee this film will.'-Prof. Robin D.G. Kelley, NYU (author of Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression and Race Rebels)


Main credits

Miller, Peter (Director)
Miller, Peter (Producer)
Toscanini, Arturo (cnd)
Peerce, Jan (Performer)
Meredith, Burgess (Narrator)
Sarton, May (Screenwriter)
Hammid, Alexander (Director)
Lerner, Irving (Producer)

Other credits

Editor, Amy Carey Linton; camera, Mike Harlow, Kevin Keating.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Cultural Studies
French Culture
French History
History (U.S.)
History (World)
Human Rights
Labor Studies
North America
Political History
Popular Culture
Western Europe


Paris Commune; revolutionary; Music; musicians; Song; The; Internationale; arise; workers; world; Pete; Seeger; Billy; Bragg; Socialism; Communism; Russia; Tiananmen Square; Eugene; Pottier; Pierre Degeyter; France; Russian; revolution; Great Depression; Spanish; Civil; War; Soviet; Union; Paris; Commune; communist; party; documentary; film; video; DVD; workers; socialist; anthem; "The Internationale"; Icarus Films;

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