A labor organizer is brought into a fraught situation at a coal mine in West Virginia in 1920.
This was an excellent movie, although it’s clear from the start that it’s going nowhere good. The actual events-the strike, the mine owners’ efforts to bring in other workers to take over, and the violence at the end- are all historically accurate…John Sayles, one of our favorite writers and directors, BOTH wrote and directed this movie, and anything by him is pretty good history!
The main character, the labor organizer (Chris Cooper, who is a knockout in this role) who has been brought in to help the striking workers, is fictional, but when the detectives that the coal company hired started evicting miners’ families (who couldn’t pay rent because they were on strike), the inevitable happens and there’s a gunfight that left nine people dead, mostly detectives. The violence continued for years after this, and eventually martial law had to be declared and the National Guard sent in.
A really dark chapter in American history but worth seeing, if not for the events, then for the excellent writing and acting.