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This film documents the coal miners' strike against the Brookside Mine of the Eastover Mining Company in Harlan County, Kentucky in June, 1973. Eastovers refusal to sign a contract (when the miners joined with the United Mine Workers of America) led to the strike, which lasted more than a year and included violent battles between gun-toting company thugs/scabs and the picketing miners and their supportive women-folk. Director Barbara Kopple puts the strike into perspective by giving us some background on the historical plight of the miners and some history of the UMWA. Written by
Martin Lewison <email@example.com>
When filming began, the film was intended to be about the 1972 campaign by Arnold Miller and Miners For Democracy to unseat UMWA president Tony Boyle, in the aftermath of Joseph Yablonski's murder; but the Harlan County strike began and caused the filmmakers to change their principal subject, with the campaign and murder becoming secondary subjects. See more »
Harlan County USA might surprise viewers that even in the 1970s, large communities existed without indoor plumbing. This documentary is disturbing in that even during the late 20th century, conditions like the one in the movie still existed. Viewers experience many different things as the documentary unfolds; the dangers and pains of working in a coal mine, the corruption of unions and their non-union opposition, and the mind set of American laborers. Harlan County USA is a great documentary and not to be missed by those interested in American labor and the coal mining industry.
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