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 🙂 ).