What a massive undertaking. The banal realities of political action are on display, and it is more interesting than you'd think to hear people talking about what time they are going to get up in the morning. And the level of sheer villainy disgusts me - how quickly will those who actively sabotage attempts at justice will descend into the crowd? Women's labor is famously a focal point.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These coal miners fight against the all powerful greed and corruption of Corporate America makes A director's struggle to get a friggin boat over a mountain pale in comparison. This is a great doc. Should be watched by every man woman and child. Loved the old coal miner songs too