15 Best Movies About Factories

Factories, factory workers and their working environment, co-workers, or engagement are always an interesting topics to be covered in movies. The possibility to show dissatisfaction with society, and with big companies but also to bring attention to numerous issues there has always been appealing to both filmmakers and viewers. This is a list of the 15 best movies about factories, not necessarily directly related to factories as such but also their workers and their destinies. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This Tim Burton remake Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is based on a beloved and successful novel by Roald Dahl and tells the story of five children who enter a marvelous chocolate factory. Willy Wonka is the owner of this sweet empire and one day he decides to welcome five children who win a special golden ticket in one of his bars. Charlie is one of these kids and he is about to have the time of his life. Or at least he thought so. 

Johnny Depp delivered a brilliant performance of the mysterious and eccentric Willy Wonka, becoming a worthy successor of the unforgettable Gene Wilder who played Wonka in its original.

Norma Rae (1979)

Sally Field is Norma Rae, a young single mother who works in a local textile mill just like many members of her family before her. The working conditions at the factory are terrible and all of them are working long hours. Aware of all the dangers, she agrees to help unionize her mill, encouraged by the speech by a devoted labor activist Reuben.

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Her decisions won’t be equally accepted by the people around her, especially her fiance and employers but despite these issues, she will risk everything and fight for what she believes is right. Field received an Oscar for her immaculate performance in this excellent movie.

Erin Brokovich (2000) 

Erin Brokovich is one of Julia Roberts’ best roles in this true story about an unemployed single mother who desperately wants to find work but without any luck. Somehow she manages to get a job but since no one is taking her seriously, she decides to take things into her own hands.

She begins to investigate a suspicious case involving a major firm which ends up in one of the biggest lawsuits in American history against a multi-billion dollar corporation. She discovered that the company was dumping illegal toxic waste poisoning the residents of the area around it. 

The Machinist (2004)

Christian Bale delivered one of his best performances playing Trevor Reznik who works as a machinist in a factory and begins to suffer from an extreme case of insomnia. He hasn’t been sleeping for a year and is slowly starting to deteriorate and lose his common sense.

He alienated himself from his coworkers and after an incident at the factory, he became a complete outcast, convinced that he is being followed by some of his coworkers and certain that some of them are there to get him.  

El buen patron (2021)

This interesting drama brings the story of the Blancos Basculas factory, a place where everything has to be made according to rules. The benevolent boss, Bardem Blanco is preparing his workers for an inspection which might result in a prestigious price, if everything is by the book.

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As usual, things won’t be so easy to achieve after one of the recently fired employees Jose arrives with his children and starts making demands for his re-employment. When Blanco and his management refused to grant his wishes, he will do everything to discredit Blanco and stop him from winning his award.

Monsters Inc. (2001)

One of the most original cartoons from the 2000s, Monsters, Inc. brings us the story of Sulley and Mike, two best friends who live in a city of monsters without humans, called Monstropolis. They work as professional scarers, entering children’s rooms and giving them nightmares so that their screams can bring power to their city.

Children are toxic to them and they will have to face this great danger when a two-year-old Boo accidentally enters their world. Sulley and Mike need to find a way to return Boo to her room before the two biggest villains find out. This cartoon is a brilliant portrayal of the way a factory functions and how it treats its workers.

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Selma is an Eastern European immigrant who lives with her preteen son Gene in a small town in Washington in 1964. She works on the Anderson Tool factory assembly line but never refuses any other job offers, in order to gain more money for herself and her son.

But Selma hides a sad secret which will be revealed to her friend Kathy who will help her with her mission to earn this amount of money for her son. She has a serious illness, a genetic disorder that includes degenerative eyesight and her only wish is to be able to afford her son’s operation when he turns 13. Her only escape from the difficult work at the factory and her bleak present is her singing and musicals.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

An adaptation of one of the most famous children’s books of all time, Roald Dahl’s story with the same title, about five children who enter a marvelous chocolate factory. Willy Wonka is the owner of this sweet empire and one day he decides to welcome five children who win a special golden ticket in one of his bars. Charlie is one of these kids and he is about to have the time of his life. Or at least he thought so. 

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This is a Mel Stuart classic and the best and most beloved movie adaptation of this excellent novel and Gene Wilder delivered a brilliant performance as Willy Wonka, together with the rest of the cast, including Peter Ostrum as Charlie and Jack Albertson as his grandpa Joe. Even though we have already mentioned its remake with a similar story, this one should also be mentioned under the same topic.

Red Desert (1964)

Italian neorealists have always dealt with topics concerning ordinary people and their lives and life struggles. Antonioni has made an excellent job with this drama, Red Desert, about young Giuliana who is trying to cope with her life situation, unhappiness, and the inability to find something that fulfills her.

Her life in a gloomy rundown industrial area with her husband Ugo who is the manager of a local plant and her children. She is having an affair with Ugo’s coworker and is starting to question her role as a wife and a mother and her importance in the world in general. 

Human Resources (1999)

Human Resources is a comedy-drama that tells the story of Frank who accepts a managerial position in a factory in his provincial hometown where his father has been working for 30 days. Wanting to run it a bit differently, he makes the rookie mistake of asking his employees about their work conditions and general satisfaction in the factory.

But not everyone is happy with his way of thinking, including his father. The upper management wants him to get rid of some employees and her father never misses a moment to try and tell him how to do his job. This movie perfectly depicts what lies behind the managerial positions in big factories and what is expected of these people when they get them.

Kinky Boots (2005)

Kinky Boots is an interesting and funny comedy-drama about Charlie Price who grew up in a family shoe business and without any wishes or plans, inherited his father’s place after his sudden death. He soon learns that the business is failing and decides to do everything to save the business.

A series o interesting situations and confessions lead Charlie to the idea of making men’s fetish footwear. With a drag cabaret singer named Lola as his designer and his unsatisfied and prejudiced staff and his greedy fiancee, Charlie will have to struggle with his unusual idea and hope for the best.

Schindler’s List (1993)

One of the greatest movies ever is so much more than just a movie about a factory, but this factory has played such an important role in this biographical war drama that it deserves its place on this list. It is inspired by true events about Oscar Schindler, a vain and greedy businessman who turns his factory into a refugee for Jews.

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This heartbreaking story is proof that there is good in some people, even in the toughest and most unlikely moments. Schindler managed to save 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The Organizer (1963)

The Organizer is another brilliant movie coming from Italy, about the textile workers in Turin, Italy who are dealing with exploitation and difficult working conditions. It takes place in the late 19th century and it shows the fight against the management and the struggle to achieve dignity and respect as workers.

Marcello Mastroianni plays professor Sinigaglia who is sent by Socialists (probably) to help these workers organize their strike and plan their fight and give form to their struggle. 

The Secret Life of Words (2004)

In The Secret Life of Words, Hannah is a hearing-impaired girl with a hearing aid, forced to go on a holiday. She decides to find work while away and starts a job as a caretaker, tending to Josef, a burn victim, on an oil rig who has temporarily lost his sight.

They are almost the only ones on the rig, except for a cook, an oceanographer, and a few others out at the sea and Josef will be transferred as soon as he regains his sight. This relationship of theirs will help them both, especially Hannah since Josef will be the one who will encourage her to start speaking.

Two Days, One Night (2014)

Marion Cotillard was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in this difficult drama, Two Days, One Night, about a woman who lives and works in Liege, Belgium. She is a factory worker who finds out that her colleagues have accepted a 1000 Euro bonus in exchange for her dismissal. 

Sandra now has only one week to convince the workers who voted for her dismissal to change their minds and let her keep her job. Soon Sandra begins to understand their decisions since she realizes that some of them are on the verge of poverty and these 1000 Euros would literally keep them afloat financially.

  • Tamara is a big movie, music and book fan since always and writes a blog about all these things. Loves psychological thrillers, noir movies and mysteries of all kind. Enjoys discussing and talking about movies and tv series.