Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award–winning Harlan County USA unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners’ sometimes violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs.
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Kopple's debut documentary feature is simply essential American cinema. The struggle of the everyman in getting a fair wage and fair treatment while the conglomerates use the manipulated system and unlawful means equally to discount them; and a corrupt media that ignored the real situation. Kopple stumbled into the situation and made a powerful document and indictment (against both company and union). Masterpiece.
My papaw was a coal miner in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, coming home to a wife, seven kids and farm work. I remember hearing stories about union issues and the often terrifying work conditions. All these things made this film very personal to me and it earned a rating of 5 stars; however, without the personal connections I might give it four. Definitely a film I'll keep thinking about.
The documentary parts are very interesting, however the only thing "haunting" about the soundtrack music is that the viewer is "haunted" by the incessant playing of yet another weepy hillbilly trailer trash ballad every few minutes, to the point that it almost becomes parodic. After about the 15th time that the drama was interrupted by some drawling cracker wailing thru her nose, I started rooting for the scabs.
This is one of the most powerful documentaries ever made. It perfectly documents the miner's struggle with an uncompromising eye that really puts you right in the center of this very real struggle that in a lot of ways is still very relevant today, not just for miners but for everybody in the working class community.
Occasionally threatens to descend into a movie about assholes butting heads, but never quite falls into that trap and ultimately emerges as a powerful document of conflicts of power and opportunity at many levels. I felt claustrophobic and endangered just watching some of the footage shot in the mines. I think actually descending into these shafts would have been psychically crippling. I can't even imagine doing it.
A Eye opening doc,what's captured in this film sould be seen by any person remotely interested in documentaries or any 1 who doesn't know what real labor and hardship is.it really immerses you in there life and culture,there struggle becomes your struggle.