“Cesar Chavez” And “Dolores” Films: The First Labor Union


Two films, “Cesar Chavez” and “Dolores,” tell the story of the founding of the first labor union and the plight of agricultural workers. Both films are documentaries and discuss the two most influential figures in the workers’ struggle for their rights and freedoms. Despite the common themes, the films use different artistic tools to reveal them. “Dolores” is presented as a story that shows the personal life of the activist, while “Cesar Chavez” is the story of a brilliant leader.


The film “Dolores” tells the story of a little-known partner of Cesar Chavez, the founder of the first agricultural workers’ union. The film corrects historical justice since Chavez entered American history, and Dolores Huerta was forgotten. “Dolores” is, in many ways, a documentary film that tells the story of a woman straightforwardly. The film turned out to be rather sharply social and provocative, as it connects the US unwillingness to accept the trade union movement with the echoes of slavery. Indeed, agricultural workers were in the position of enslaved people, not protected by the state. The film shows that it was Huerta who started the movement to improve the situation, although the living conditions of the workers remain difficult to this day. For example, the striking moment of the film is how the woman lived in poor communities to understand and illuminate all conditions from the inside. The film also demonstrates the relationship between the two leaders; it becomes clear how Chavez is annoyed by Huerta’s reluctance to give all the glory to him.

The film raises the critical theme of the complexity of balancing one’s personal life and serving the community. The enemies of Dolores used biographical facts against her: she had children from different men, and she infrequently appeared at home due to the complexities of social activities. A clear parallel can be drawn here: men are not usually subjected to such accusations, and the film has a strong feminist message. The film “Dolores” presents a woman as a bright human rights activist who successfully turned a blind eye to a hostile society towards her. The director was able to look at her life from an intimate side, demonstrating this strong personality. This is not just a story about an essential part of American history but also the personal life of a strong woman.

“Caesar Chavez”

The film “Caesar Chavez” shows the life and career of a social activist. The film is biographical in many ways, but it seems to call for public admiration rather than demonstrating a person’s life. Chavez was a complex and controversial man, yet the film shows the activist’s prominent career rise. Despite the obviousness of the demonstrated problem, the viewer is left with many unanswered questions. For example, it is not entirely clear what specific demands the workers put forward. If the filmmakers had devoted more time to revealing the strike’s theme, the viewer would have sympathized with the characters more and perceived it as more profound than a simple historical event. The identity of Chavez himself is not fully disclosed either. The film does not show precisely what events prompted the activist to form his views. Chavez appears before the viewer as an undoubted protector and savior, demonstrating not a personality but a public leader. The film does not encourage further reasoning and does not build parallels with the present.

Comparison and Contrasting

The similarity of the films lies in raising a critical social and historical theme. The central figures are the activists who contributed to the solution of this problem: both personalities appear outstanding and deserving of respect. The films talk about an essential part of American history that should not be forgotten. Although both movies are filmed on the same subject, they reflect two historical figures differently. “Dolores” is a personal and intimate story, while “Caesar Chavez” is a film about a famous activist.

Description of the emotional side of Dolores and showing all the facts of her complex personality disposes of the viewer and makes them sympathize. “Caesar Chavez” indicates the character only from the positive side; the viewer is offered only a census of historical events. Because of what the second film is less believable, it appears as a dry set of facts. “Dolores” brings up the topic of feminism and the problematic position of women in public activism; “Caesar Chavez” omits this topic. Moreover, “Dolores” draws attention to the plight of the workers at present, attracting public interest in this problem. “Caesar Chavez” highlights the issue of agricultural workers as a historical fact and does not draw parallels with the present.


Thus, both films are shot on the same subject but reveal it in different ways. “Dolores” seems to be more advantageous in artistic and documentary terms. The story of a strong activist with a difficult fate inspires reflection and the continuation of the fight against injustice and discrimination. The second film seems more superficial and one-sided, even though it also reflects reliable facts. Both films can be recommended for viewing to get new information about the struggle of agricultural workers for their rights and the successes of past activists.