The Last Truck shows the audience the struggle of the employees of the General Motors Moraine Assembly Plant in Ohio. This giant facility was opened in 1981, and several generations worked there, earning money and providing for their families. The plant won 11 national awards for the quality of its vehicles and efficiency. Nevertheless, the GM management decided to close it in 2008, leaving the 2200 workers and 200 managers unemployed. It was a big shock for people who had been working there for decades and could not imagine doing anything else. Although it was a hard job, both physically and mentally, it allowed them to provide for their families and have decent lives. Although they did not get paid $75 per hour, as many news outlets speculated, GM was providing them with stability. Unlike the Japanese car manufacturers, the company was taking care of the people who retired from the plant.
The decision to close the plant caused great disruption in the area. The majority of employees did not know what to do next. Many of them had only high school diplomas, and they had been working for GM since their late teens. They were not interested in computers, which decreased their chances to find new jobs in the digitalized world. The closing of the plant put under risk other local businesses that served either the employees or the plant itself. After working for many years for GM, plant workers felt a strong emotional connection to their colleagues, and it made saying farewell to the plant especially painful.
The greatest advantage of this film is the in-depth depiction of people’s emotions caused by the closing of the plant. They tell the audience about what they felt when they started working there, what was it like to be a GM employee for so many years, and what did they think about their future. People who appear in this documentary are very emotional about their situation, and they are not afraid to show their tears. This helps the audience to sympathize with them and understand that the shedding of manufacturing jobs is not just an economic trend but a real tragedy for thousands of Americans who were unlucky to be born at the wrong time. The interviewer asks one of the employees whether he is computers, and he says that he does not even have one. This helps the viewers to understand how few opportunities this man and his co-workers have in their lives.
Personally, I like that this films entirely focuses on the plant employees and omits the bigger picture. For example, it only casually mentions that some journalists suppose that the plant was closed because of the unions. Right after that moment, an employee refutes this idea and says that unions were good for people. The movie itself does not make any suggestions, and one of the employees simply states that nobody needs all the cars the plant produces. Therefore, this documentary is rather an emotional tribute to the tragedy of the Moraine plant workers than an in-depth investigation of social and economic processes that have led to its closing. Someone may say it is a disadvantage, but I think that there are not enough movies that show the real-life outcomes of globalization and structural transformation of the economy.
The only thing I did not like about this film is that it is a bit monotone due to its narrow focus on workers exclusively. The interviewers could have talked to managers of the plant to find out about their thoughts and perspectives. Also, they could have asked owners of the local businesses about the community’s future. Nevertheless, I think that this film is worth watching.