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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film has a 100% rating based on 11 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. See more »
Hawley Wells Jr.:
that was when I learned my first real political lesson, about what happens when you take a position against the coal operators, against the capitalists... I found out that the union officials were working with the coal companies. I also found that the Catholic hierarchy was working with the coal companies. Here was a combination of the whole thing, you see: you had to bump against the whole combination of them.
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Come All You Coal Miners
Written and Sung by Sarah Gunnings See more »
harlan sings the blues
Barbara Kopple's 1976 documentary "Harlan County USA" remains one of the finest portraits of the struggle between faceless and greedy corporations and the employees who work themselves to the bone to eke out a living. The film deals with a coal miner's strike in a small Kentucky town during the early 70s. These seemingly insurmountable odds to strike up agreements between the company and the union in this Harlan County town dip back as far as a bloody battle there during the 1930s.
The miners and the picketers are captured via a well-maintained cinema verite style to the point that much of the early dialogue in the film is indiscernible and lingers there only as a means to introduce the tone. Music plays a key role in the emotional impact of this gritty film as well. Considering it takes place in the Bluegrass State, it comes as no surprise that so many of the most intense moments in the film carry with them a heart-wrenching rendition of roots music, most of which pertain specifically to coal mining.
"Harlan County USA" removes the presumptions that such human atrocities are far gone memories of America's past, and would pave the way for other important pro-workers rights films as "Norma Rae", "Silkwood", and "Matewan".
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