John Sayles on Harlan County, USA

I spent part of this morning in UMW’s library because the DTLT office floors were being cleaned. To my pleasant surprise UMW’s DVD collection (which is far too small) was out on the first floor for anyone to browse. How could I resist? 10 DVDs later I found myself with a laptop bag full of classics. I watched the first of these tonight, Harlan County, USA (1976) by Barbara Kopple. There is a lot to love about this film, and even more to marvel at: not least of which is how the hell a 20 something New Yorker embedded herself so entirely into a Kentucky Mining community? It was brilliantly done, and as John Sayles says in his discussion of the film in the above video, it’s the relationship Kopple had with the people on strike that made this film so remarkable. I love listening and reading John Sayles talk about film, his book Thinking in Pictures about the making of Matewan (1987) is brilliant—although I’m about 50/50 on the films he actually makes. Anyway, I would go on and on about Harlan Country, USA, and I may in the future, but for the moment I’ll leave you with Sayles insights about Kopple’s masterpiece which are on the money.

FYI, this documentary is on the National Film Registry (time to start taking some stock of these 🙂 ).

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3 Responses to John Sayles on Harlan County, USA

  1. George Meadows says:

    Great movie choice, Jim! I haven’t seen this for a while and I was really happy to see, about 3:14 into the youtube clip, a couple of friends from college. The Sweeney brothers, twins, are playing mandolin and banjo. They were pretty well known bluegrass musicians in the area and they used to play often at Marshall Univ.

  2. Pingback: Movie List #3: A Veritable Variety Pack | bavatuesdays

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