What better way to celebrate the holiday of the working person than to watch a movie about “the basic labor relations between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie”? There are 23 of them in this list: dramas, biopics, documentaries, and comedies that address labor in an entertaining way -and an educational way for young folks who don’t learn these things in history class. Number three is about my birthplace:
It’s been over 35 years since Harlan County U.S.A., Barbara Kopple’s Oscar-winning documentary about a miners’ strike in Kentucky coal country, was first released, but the persistence of cave-ins, health concerns, and deplorable working conditions has kept it in the public conscience. Kopple and her crew arrived in the area in 1972, intending to cover the contentious election of a new union president, but they stumbled onto the site of the one of the bloodiest union-busting operations in American history and discovered that little had changed. As the miners’ strike against the Duke Power Company drags on, Kopple’s cameras are there to catch some hired gun thugs sent to intimidate the workers (and Kopple’s crew) and the tensions that develop within the ranks as the weeks and months drag on.