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Harlan County, USA

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Overview

Barbara Kopple's Harlan County, USA was one of the most important and powerful political documentaries of the 1970s, a startling and compelling look at a bitter coal miner's strike in Kentucky in the early '70s, and this DVD release of the film from The Criterion Collection treats Kopple's work like the masterpiece it is. This edition of Harlan County, USA has been transferred to disc in letterboxed format at the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 while the film was shot in 16 mm at the 1.33:1 ratio, this disc ...
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Overview

Barbara Kopple's Harlan County, USA was one of the most important and powerful political documentaries of the 1970s, a startling and compelling look at a bitter coal miner's strike in Kentucky in the early '70s, and this DVD release of the film from The Criterion Collection treats Kopple's work like the masterpiece it is. This edition of Harlan County, USA has been transferred to disc in letterboxed format at the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 while the film was shot in 16 mm at the 1.33:1 ratio, this disc reflects the presentation of the 35 mm blow-up used for theatrical release, and has been enhanced for anamorphic play on 16 x 9 monitors. While the grain of the 16 mm image is apparent throughout, this transfer is noticeably clearer and sharper than Harlan County, USA's previous releases on video, and the colors are clear without being pushed into excessive brightness. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono and is crisp and full of presence, despite the occasional and unavoidable flaws of documentary field recording. The film is in English, with no multiple language options. Among the bonus materials are 26 minutes of deleted sequences from the film, a 21-minute documentary on the movie's long and difficult production including interviews with Kopple and her associates, an onscreen interview with filmmaker John Sayles, who talks about his appreciation of Harlan County, USA and its influences on his own picture Matewan, and a conversation with singer Hazel Dickens, who discusses growing up in coal country and her music which was used in the picture. Roger Ebert hosted a panel discussion on Harlan County, USA at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and footage from that presentation has also been included. Kopple and editor Nancy Baker contribute a lively and fascinating commentary track in which they offer still more background on how the movie was made. The original theatrical trailer for Harlan County, USA rounds out the disc, and the package includes a handsome booklet with essays from Paul Arthur and Jon Weisberger. Few films say as much about class, labor, and the battle for economic equality -- and say it with such simple eloquence -- as Harlan County, USA, and Criterion's DVD release is easily the definitive presentation of this landmark in documentary moviemaking.
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Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by producer-director Barbara Kopple; Audio commentary by Kopple and editor Nancy Baker; "The Making of 'Harlan County USA,'" a new documentary featuring interviews with Kopple, crew members, and strike participants featured in the film; Never-before-seen outtakes from the film; New video interview with legendary bluegrass singer-songwriter Hazel Dickens; New video interview with director John Sayles; A panel discussion from the 2005 Sundance Film Festival featuring Kopple and Roger Ebert; Original theatrical trailer; Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing; Plus new essays by film scholar Paul Arthur and music journalist Jon Weisberger
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
It's hard to believe that no great documentary films came out of the labor struggles of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, when unions such as the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers, and the United Mine Workers waged battles sometimes literally with management over basic issues that had been woefully neglected for many years. With Harlan County, USA, Barbara Kopple is able to distill many details of those earlier conflicts: the exploited workers, the bosses complaining about lost profits in the wake of rising wages and stricter safety precautions, and the divisions between the working men on strike and those desperate enough to break the picket line for any paycheck. She can do this because she lived the story for four years in a honest effort to tell all, and did not just drop in for a week as so many TV journalists seem to do. Though Kopple is clearly on the side of the miners, it's difficult to imagine a so-called objective filmmaker doing a more effective job of presenting the issues involved in this struggle. Most importantly, Harlan County, USA shows how a strong sense of community is the workers' greatest ally; the miners' wives and girlfriends offer not only moral support but even do the sometimes dangerous duty of walking the picket lines.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/23/2006
  • UPC: 037429208328
  • Original Release: 1976
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Time: 1:44:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 1,570

Cast & Crew

Technical Credits
Barbara Kopple Director, Producer, Sound/Sound Designer
Nancy Baker Editor
Mirra Bank Editor
Hazel Dickens Score Composer
Tom Hurwitz Cinematographer
Kevin Keating Cinematographer
Mary Lampson Editor
Phil Parmet Cinematographer
Hart Perry Cinematographer
Merle Travis Score Composer
Josh Waletsky Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Harlan County USA
1. In the Mines [5:43]
2. On Strike [6:28]
3. Lessons Learned [2:55]
4. First Month [3:12]
5. The Women [3:05]
6. Jail Time [3:27]
7. The Company [3:26]
8. "You Got Dental?" [1:48]
9. Stockholders [2:23]
10. Mannington Mine [3:35]
11. Black Lung [5:05]
12. Cold-Blooded Murder [4:22]
13. Miners for Democracy [3:09]
14. "Which Side Are You On?" [2:37]
15. Gun Thugs [7:11]
16. Infighting [3:24]
17. Lois's Gun [1:56]
18. "Fight Fire With Fire" [7:03]
19. Arrest Warrant [4:26]
20. Union Support [3:58]
21. Lawrence Jones [1:00]
22. Contract Accepted [6:46]
23. Right to Ratify [3:43]
24. Back to Work [6:45]
25. "They'll Never Keep Us Down" [2:19]
26. Color Bars [4:30]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Harlan County USA
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Commentary
      Recorded Exclusively for the Criterion Collection, in 2005, This Commentary Features Producer and Director Barbara Kopple and Director of Editing Nancy Baker. To Listen to the Commentay While Viewing the Movie, Press the Audio Key on Your Remote at Any Time.: Off
      Recorded Exclusively for the Criterion Collection, in 2005, This Commentary Features Producer and Director Barbara Kopple and Director of Editing Nancy Baker. To Listen to the Commentay While Viewing the Movie, Press the Audio Key on Your Remote at Any Time.: On
   Supplements
      The Making of Harlan County USA
         Play
      Outtakes
         Play All
         Nimrod Workman
         Lois and the Sheriff
         Union Organizers
         Jerry and Bessie
         Bessie and the Scab
         Courtroom
      Hazel Dickens Interview
         Play
      John Sayles on the Film
         Play
      Harlan County USA at Sundance
         Play
      Trailer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2003

    Amazing that such a travisty was perpatrated so recently as the early 70's!

    The Coal miners wife Ruby, was a heroin indeed! Gave the appearance of an uneducated hillbilly with a high I.Q.. Displayed charactor, idealism, and held to the fact that a principle of right was worth standing for. To quote line, ....''if it don't taste good, you spit it out. That is what God gave us a tongue fer.'' Although this atrosity took place in the 70's, we still see the coruption and greed of upper tycoons who run rough-shod over the vital/grass root and backbone workers. Perhaps rough-shod is not the proper word here, I should say,... thoes who would reward the straw bosses and persecute the workers. Employee's are important, they have names, souls, families and feelings. They are not just faceless, nameless, production, expendable entities, or numbers entered into a computer. It is such folk of hardy true grit and hard working stock from all races that has made that county what it is today! Unfortunaltly we still have such Examples of criminal and usury behaviour today, such the recently exposed lower class executives of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco executives and on and on. The selling out of the American worker for their own greed and selfishness. If we do not learn from the lessons of history, then history will indeed repeat itself in the future. Heart warming, heart throbing, and heart felt. Difinetly a heart land and a heart beat of intestinal fortitude throughout! Say, do they have a six star rating?

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews