Harlan County, USA

Watch Harlan County, USA

"Which Side Are You On?"
  • PG
  • 1976
  • 1 hr 43 min
  • 8.2  (6,543)
  • 80

Harlan County, USA is a documentary film directed by Barbara Kopple and released in 1976. The film chronicles the struggle of coal miners in eastern Kentucky, who waged a year-long strike against the Duke Power Company in 1973. The film presents an unflinching examination of the working conditions and social realities faced by the miners and their families, and the sometimes violent conflict between the striking miners and the company and its allies.

The central figure of the film is local union leader Lois Scott, who is shown negotiating with the company, rallying the miners to stand firm in the face of intimidation and violence, and organizing picket lines and protests. The film also features interviews with other miners and their families, who describe the harsh working conditions in the mines, the poverty and lack of opportunity in the region, and the toll that the strike takes on their lives.

Throughout the film, the Duke Power Company is portrayed as an oppressive force, using a variety of tactics to break the strike and maintain their control over the miners and the community. These tactics include hiring armed guards to patrol the mines and intimidate the striking miners, using court injunctions to restrict picketing and other forms of protest, and manipulating local politics to divide the community and weaken the union.

In addition to the miners and their families, the film also features interviews with community members who are not directly involved in the strike, including a local store owner who supports the strike and a minister who tries to mediate between the company and the union. These interviews provide a broader perspective on the social and economic conditions of the region, and underscore the importance of the mining industry to the local community.

The film is notable for its raw, unvarnished portrayal of the strike and its aftermath. The filmmakers were embedded with the striking miners for over a year, and the resulting footage is both intimate and powerful. The film includes scenes of violence and conflict, as well as quieter moments of reflection and solidarity. Throughout, the film emphasizes the dignity and resilience of the miners, who are determined to fight for a better life for themselves and their families.

Harlan County, USA was highly praised upon its release, and it remains a key document of the labor movement in the United States. The film won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and it has been widely studied and discussed in academic and activist circles. Its legacy can be seen in the continued struggles of workers and communities around the world who are fighting for fair wages, safe working conditions, and a better future.

Harlan County, USA is a 1976 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 43 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.2 and a MetaScore of 80.

Harlan County, USA
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 43 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.2  (6,543)
  • Metascore