Overview: On Dec. 23, 2008, two days before Christmas, the General Motors assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio shut its doors. As a result, 2,500 workers and 200 management staff were left without jobs, while the closing is also sure to trigger the loss of thousands of related jobs and businesses. The film views the final months of the plant through the workers’ eyes as they reflect on their work and consider their next steps. In revealing interviews with people who considered themselves more family than co-workers, the film reveals the emotional toll of losing not just a job, but a sense of self.
It closes with footage of the actual “last truck” to be produced at Moraine Assembly.
Expectations: I remember a bit about this 2009 documentary. It featured a few workers of the manufacturing plant and their thoughts about the job and their worries of being jobless after that last vehicle rolls off the line. It showed the blue-collar middle class struggling doing those recessive years. But now, six years later I wonder if I will look at the documentary in a slightly different light.
Back then they seemed a proud family seeking enjoyment out of crafting an American made vehicle and now as GM faces a multitude of recalls of defective automobiles you begin to wonder if those workers were really doing a good job or not. Will I view this half-hour piece differently in 2014? Time will tell and I’ll get back to you.
Gut Reaction: Actually, the span of years does not really mar the outcome of this documentary. In watching it again the unfortunate decline in the backbone of the country, meaning the middle class, is still a disheartening thing. This film features Kathy, Kate, Kim and Popeye, all workers of the plant. Their expressed feelings attest to the hard work, familial ties and pride they took in their jobs. They put into the system and provided for their families and job loss is what they got in the end.
The fact that it was an automobile factory doesn’t really matter in 2014 and probably didn’t back in 2009, but I didn’t notice it then I don’t think. The General Motors plant and the hype of the last product seen rolling out its doors was just an example of blue-collar work being closed, downsized and/or outsourced across this country. That fact remains the same regardless of any recalled autos since then.
In Conclusion: THE LAST TRUCK still makes the same point as it did then. There are hard working people in this country who see their jobs disappear. Though we are no longer in that recessive slump of a few years ago the fear and potential still linger for people just like Kathy, Popeye and friends. The documentary can be found on HBO On Demand and on HBOGO.
Next Week: An encore presentation of HBO Documentary Films: ETHEL will air Monday, 09.01 at 6:15pm. It is a film about Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert Kennedy that we have already reviewed. The following week on 09.08 is A GOOD JOB: STORIES OF THE FDNY by Steve Buscemi.