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Matewan back to product details

written by Texan99 September 5, 2010 - 2:00 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Regardless of how you feel about the current state of affairs re unions, this film -- one of Sayles's finest -- is a fantastically entertaining and moving story about unionizing in post-WWI Appalachia. It sold me on Chris Cooper for life. Even Mary McDonnell is good here. David Strathairn has a memorable scene as a sheriff who knows how to use power for the right purpose: you'll cheer.

Great message, true story
written by SBarnett August 25, 2006 - 3:33 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
A beautiful film by John Sayles with a great message--worker solidarity in the face of organized capital--that's sadly lost in today's anti-union consumer culture. And the fact that the film is based on a true story makes it even more resonant. What holds the film back is that the characters seldom move beyond the barest essentials: the noble and committed union organizer, the young man in search of himself, the grieving widow with a tight grip on her heart, the simple-minded loose woman, the callow hired thugs, the double-dealing villain, the hard-working immigrants. "Few Clothes" Johnson (James Earl Jones) is the best role, and Jones revels in it. (It's no surprise that John Sayles gave himself the role of a fire and brimstone preacher.) Certain points are made, made again, and then made again even more dramatically, such as how playing music helps unite the miners, that a lighter touch would make the film more incisive and less sentimental. Sayles aims for John Ford in "The Grapes of Wrath," and comes so close to the mark. Still, the production and cinematography are excellent, and the narrow hollows of Appalachia are rendered in loving detail. Definitely worth seeing.

Remembering Sago, WVA
written by SMattoon January 5, 2006 - 12:24 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
January 5, 2006 - 12 coal miners' bodies were pulled from the Sago mine today, 44 hours after an explosion that sealed them in. The tragedy was amplified by a premature and false announcement, a day earlier, that all the trapped miners were alive, raising jubilation and hopes of their rescue. One miner was eventually rescued, but for the friends and family of the other 12, the reversal of news was devastating.

Watching John Sayle's Matewan today gave me a deeper appreciation and empathy for what the miners and their community live and feel in the shadow of an unforgiving and dangerous line of work. While the conditions working in coal mines in the 1920's were undoubtably much more dangerous and foul, today's news reminds us all that the miners who extract coal from the earth are putting their life on the line to give us light - coal provides nearly half the electricity consumed in the U.S.

The struggle between a fledging union chapter and the Stone Mountain Mining Co. portrayed in the movie is a proud hommage to those workers who first organized to improve working conditions for miners. Today's tragic news revives and expands the hommage that Americans ought pay with their thoughts as these miners' families mourn their loss.


(Average 7.85)
177 Votes
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