‘King Coal’ Review: Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Documentary Is An Atmospheric, Evocative Elegy For Central Appalachia [Sundance]

‘King Coal’ Review: Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Documentary Is An Atmospheric, Evocative Elegy For Central Appalachia [Sundance]
This is “a place of mountains and myths,” we’re told as a montage of Central Appalachian imagery fills the frame. The mists, buffalo, ferns, and flowing waters intercut with the coal-filled mountains and mining towns that grew up around them. Coal is intrinsic to the people of this region. Coal is made from many dead things crushed over a long period of time. This thought underscores the stark contrast between life and death that pulses throughout Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s impassioned documentary “King Coal,” artfully told through atmospheric narration and evocative editing.

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“This is what it’s like to live under King Coal,” she tells us.

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