Humberto Fuentes is a wealthy doctor whose wife has recently died. In spite of the advice of his children, he takes a trip to visit his former students who now work in impoverished villages... See full summary »
Dan Rivera González
Seven former college friends, along with a few new friends, gather for a weekend reunion at a summer house in New Hampshire to reminisce about the good old days, when they got arrested on the way to a protest in Washington, DC.
In an economically devastated Alaskan town, a fisherman with a troublesome past dates a woman whose young daughter does not approve of him. When he witnesses the murder of his shady brother, he, the woman and the kid run to the wilderness.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
Mingo County, West Virginia, 1920. Coal miners, struggling to form a union, are up against company operators and the gun thugs of the notorious Baldwin-Felts detective agency. Black and Italian miners, brought in by the company to break the strike, are caught between the two forces. UMWA organizer and dual-card Wobbly Joe Kenehan determines to bring the local, Black, and Italian groups together. While Kenehan and his story are fictional, the setting and the dramatic climax are historical; Sid Hatfield, Cabell C. Testerman, C. E. Lively and the Felts brothers were real-life participants, and 'Few Clothes' is based on a character active several years previously.Written by
Susan C. Mitchell <firstname.lastname@example.org>, expanded by Silverwhistle
The movie was actually filmed in a town in central West Virginia known as Thurmond. This town is located on the New River. It is about 100 miles from the real city of Matewan. See more »
In the scene where the coal company executives are trying to bribe the Mayor and Sid Hatfield, the calendar behind the mayor reads September 1920. The historical shootout at the climax occurred in May of 1920, four months beforehand. See more »
I take care of my people. You bring 'em trouble, and you're a dead man. Sleep tight, Kenehan.
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After a streak of Godard films that left me a little exhausted, I was looking for a big narrative to immerse myself in, a film where artifice does not jump to our attention but is transparent and the world of the film believable. I immediately remembered about John Sayles and his nouvellas of cinema. With Lone Star I bemoaned the lack of a visual imagination, but coming to a Sayles film for a narrative like I did with Matewan, I leave completely satisfied. The man excels in telling us stories with scope and values of importance.
What a lovely world he creates here, among the derelict shacks and cabins of the Pennsylvania foothills of Matewan a moral struggle is fought, flawed characters with faces blackened by coaldust fumble with great ideals and big hopes for a better future, and the one thing that stands between them and justice is their own prejudice. I like how the film suggests that for the collective to be reformed the individual must be reformed first, that we need to look inwards first before we make a stand. The stand in the film is heroic but also desperate, a bit of a lawless old West on the way to emancipation. John Sayles is a leftist and this comes across loud and clear in Matewan, but unlike a Godard film like Week End, Sayles doesn't call for blood, he calls for social justice.
The narrative here sprawls in and out of log cabins where sullen faces plot strikes and discuss ideals, in and out of makeshift tents and muddy town streets where coalminers live and die and sing, now a fiddle or harmonica is calling out from the dark the sad tune of a life of suffering, and the finale is sealed with a shootout filled with tragedy and hope. Sayles' camera doesn't intrude in any of this, rather it's invited in and hankers down out of way to quietly listen or conspire.
Matewan makes a great doublebill with Martin Ritt's The Molly Maguires, another forlorn drama of the oppressed that speaks of moral devastation in the Pennsylvania coal fields, but more, it stands by itself as one of the great American narratives of the 80's.
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