Archive | Mining Movies

Matewan (Mining Movie – 1987)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Matewan (1987) is an American drama film written and directed by John Sayles, illustrating the events of a coal mine-workers’ strike and attempt to unionize in 1920 in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia.[1]

Based on the Battle of Matewan, the film features Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn, Kevin Tighe and Will Oldham.


It was 1920 in the southwest West Virginia coal fields, and, as the narrator recalls, “things were tough.” In response to efforts by miners to organize into a labor union, the Stone Mountain Coal Company announces it will cut the pay miners receive, and will be importing replacement workers into town to replace those who join the union. The new workers are African Americans from Alabama and are coming in on the train, but the train is stopped outside town and the black men are told to get off. Derided as “scabs”, they are then attacked by the local miners, but manage to get back on the train and continue their journey. Continue Reading →

West Virginia’s Mine Wars

This article is from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History website:

Compiled by the West Virginia State Archives

On March 12, 1883, the first carload of coal was transported from Pocahontas in Tazewell County, Virginia, on the Norfolk and Western Railway. This new railroad opened a gateway to the untapped coalfields of southwestern West Virginia, precipitating a dramatic population increase. Virtually overnight, new towns were created as the region was transformed from an agricultural to industrial economy.

With the lure of good wages and inexpensive housing, thousands of European immigrants rushed into southern West Virginia. In addition, a large number of African Americans migrated from the southern states. The McDowell County black population alone increased from 0.1 percent in 1880 to 30.7 percent in 1910.

Most of these new West Virginians soon became part of an economic system controlled by the coal industry. Miners worked in company mines with company tools and equipment, which they were required to lease. The rent for company housing and cost of items from the company store were deducted from their pay. The stores themselves charged over-inflated prices, since there was no alternative for purchasing goods. Continue Reading →

Audacious Environmental Hypocrisy: James Cameron – Grow Up – by Ann McElhinney ( – February 24, 2010)

Beautiful but Dangerous Avatar – Ann McElhinney’s You-Tube posting speech, above is from the conservative CPAC convention (February 2, 2010).  Ann McElhinney, the director of “Not Evil Just Wrong” and “Mine Your Own Business” speaks about anti-development bias in James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar and about environmental indoctrination in public education system in US.

This column below is from:

Ann McElhinney is a conservative documentary film director and producer.

I thought Avatar was a great film, beautiful even.  Cameron is such a good story teller he even had me rooting for the blue rain forest people and wishing death on all the appalling Americans in final battle scene.
But seriously, James Cameron grow up. Avatar is an anti-mining, anti resource development rant worthy of a not very clever spotty undergraduate.

James Cameron is a self confessed unrepentant greenie, and in the world he creates mining is evil and life in the rain forest is just spiffing. So lets throw a few facts in the way of Cameron’s gorgeous but idiotic narrative. Continue Reading →

Avatar activism: Pick your protest – by Henry Jenkins (Globe and Mail – September 18, 2010)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Henry Jenkins is Provost’s Professor of communication, journalism and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California and the author of Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture.

Five Palestinian, Israeli and international activists painted themselves blue to resemble the Na’vi from James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar in February, and marched through the occupied village of Bil’in. The Israeli military used tear gas and sound bombs on the azure-skinned protesters, who wore traditional kaffiyehs with their Na’vi tails and pointy ears.

The camcorder footage of the incident was juxtaposed with borrowed shots from the film and circulated on YouTube. We hear the movie characters proclaim: “We will show the Sky People that they cannot take whatever they want! This, this is our land!”

The event is a reminder of how people around the world are mobilizing icons and myths from popular culture as resources for political speech, which we can call “Avatar activism.” Even relatively apolitical critics for local newspapers recognized that Avatar spoke to contemporary political concerns. Continue Reading →

Avatar as a criticism of mining or a reflection of deep cultural memory – by Jack Caldwell (I Think – January 4, 2010)

My grandson, four-years old, and me went this afternoon to see Avatar.  This is the billion-dollar-grossing movie from James Cameron that is now all the rage. 

Opinions on this movie are all over the map.  The quarrelsome son who could never agree with his father, a mining consultant, says “It is the best movie I have ever seen.”  My son-in-law and daughter said “We have seen that story before in Dances With Wolves.”    The blog-sphere is awash with comments on the movie’s religious significance, its tree-hugging philosophies, and the racism of depicting innocent savages as blue-tinted aboriginals fighting to protect a forest from mining by white-men Americans.

I personally found the movie just too long and too noisy—even my grandson remarked “it is a loud movie.”  And I felt uncomfortable most of the time thinking that I had read this story too often for my own good in the mining news columns of the past few years.  Here is a link to one blog that analyzes the mining-related aspects of the movie, saying: Continue Reading →

Movie “Avatar” has few fans among mining execs – by Steve James ( – March 11, 2010)

The article is from the Reuters website:

(Reuters) – It’s enough to make a mining executive grit his teeth or his kids to give him the silent treatment. In a case of art imitating life — with perhaps a little poetic license — Oscar-winning movie “Avatar” paints big mining companies as the villains of the future.

But real-life executives are not entirely amused by their fictional colleagues being cast in evil roles in what is already the biggest-grossing Hollywood movie of all time.

“Let me put it this way, my kids saw the movie, and my kids know I’m a miner, and they didn’t say anything to me,” said Peter Kukielski, head of mining operations for ArcelorMittal (ISPA.AS) (MT.N), the world’s largest steelmaker. Continue Reading →

Avatar (Mining Movie – 2009)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Avatar is a 2009 American[6][7] epic science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi and Sigourney Weaver. The film is set in the mid-22nd century, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora, a lush habitable moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system.[8][9][10]

The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na’vi—a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. The film’s title refers to the genetically engineered Na’vi-human hybrid bodies used by a team of researchers to interact with the natives of Pandora.[11]

Development of Avatar began in 1994, when Cameron wrote an 80-page scriptment for the film.[12] Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic, for a planned release in 1999,[13] but according to Cameron, the necessary technology was not yet available to achieve his vision of the film.[14] Continue Reading →

October Sky (Mining Movie – 1999)


This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner’s son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 to take up rocketry against his father’s wishes, and who eventually became a NASA engineer. Most of the film was shot in rural East Tennessee, including location filming in: Morgan County, Tennessee, Roane County, Tennessee, Oliver Springs, Harriman, and Kingston, Tennessee.


October Sky is an anagram of Rocket Boys, the title of the book upon which the movie is based. It is also used in a period radio broadcast describing Sputnik as it crossed the “October sky.” Homer Hickam stated that “Universal Studios marketing people got involved and they just had to change the title because, according to their research, women over thirty would never see a movie titled Rocket Boys”,[1] so Universal Pictures changed the title to be more inviting to a wider audience. The book was later re-released with the name in order to capitalize on interest in the movie. Continue Reading →

Brassed Off (Mining Movie – 1996)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Brassed Off is a 1996 British film written and directed by Mark Herman. The film, a British-American co-production made between Channel Four Films, Miramax Films and Prominent Films, is about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit. The soundtrack for the film was provided by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and the plot is based on Grimethorpe’s own struggles against pit closures. It is generally very positively received for its role in promoting brass bands and their music. Parts of the film make reference to the huge increase in suicides that resulted from the end of the coal industry in Britain, and the struggle to retain hope in the circumstances.

Channel 4 and The Guardian both sponsored what was expected to be a low-profile film; it was not expected to gain the wide audience that it has. Having expected viewers to be mostly those with past links to coal mining, the film does not make explicit the political background to the plot. The American marketing for the film (and later VHS and DVD releases) portrays the film as a cheerful romantic comedy with nearly no mention at all about the musical or political elements. Continue Reading →

Coal Miner’s Daughter (Mining Movie – 1980)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Coal Miner’s Daughter is a 1980 American biographical film which tells the story of country music icon Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek in her Academy Award for Best Actress winning role, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D’Angelo and Levon Helm, and was directed by Michael Apted.


The film was adapted from Lynn’s 1976 autobiography written with George Vecsey. Loretta Lynn was one of eight children born to Ted Webb (Levon Helm), a coal miner raising a family despite grinding poverty in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, pronounced by locals as “Butcher Holler”. She married Oliver Vanetta (Doolittle) “Mooney” Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones) when she was 13 years old.

A mother of four by the time she was 19 (and a grandmother by age 29), Lynn began singing the occasional song at local honky-tonks on weekends as well as making the occasional radio appearance. Continue Reading →

North Country (Mining Movie – 2005)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

North Country is a 2005 American drama film directed by Niki Caro. The screenplay by Michael Seitzman was inspired by the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler, which chronicled the case of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company.


In 1989, Josey (Charlize Theron), returns to her hometown in Northern Minnesota with her children, Sam (Thomas Curtis) and Karen (Elle Peterson), after escaping from her abusive husband. She moves in with her parents, Alice (Sissy Spacek) and Hank (Richard Jenkins). Hank is ashamed of Josey, who became pregnant at the age of 16, and believes that this was the result of Josey being promiscuous. Continue Reading →

Blood Diamond (Mining Movie – 2006)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Blood Diamond is a 2006 political thriller film co-produced and directed by Edward Zwick and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou. The title refers to blood diamonds, which are diamonds mined in African war zones and sold to finance conflicts, and thereby profit warlords and diamond companies across the world.

Set during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1992-2002, the film shows a country torn apart by the struggle between government soldiers and rebel forces.[1] It also portrays many of the atrocities of that war, including the rebels’ amputation of people’s hands to discourage them from voting in upcoming elections.

The film’s ending, in which a conference is held concerning blood diamonds, is in reference to an actual meeting that took place in Kimberley, South Africa in 2000 and led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds. The film received mixed, but generally favourable reviews. Continue Reading →

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Mining Movie – 1948)

This information is from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American film written and directed by John Huston, a feature film adaptation of B. Traven’s 1927 novel of the same name, in which two impecunious Americans Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) during the 1920s in Mexico join with an old-timer, Howard (Walter Huston, the director’s father), to prospect for gold. The old-timer accurately predicts trouble, but is willing to go anyway.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was one of the first Hollywood films to be filmed almost entirely on location outside the United States (in the state of Durango and street scenes in Tampico, Mexico), although the night scenes were filmed back in the studio. The film is quite faithful to the novel. In 1990, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Continue Reading →

Pit Pony author Joyce Barkhouse dies – (CBC News – February 3, 2012)


This article is from:

Joyce Barkhouse, the Nova Scotia-based children’s author who wrote Pit Pony, has died. She was 98. Nate Crawford, executive director of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, said Barkhouse died on Thursday in Bridgewater, N.S., following a heart attack.

Pit Pony, the story of a boy and his horse working in the coal mines of Cape Breton, was her most popular book, drawing letters from people living in mining communities and from horse lovers across Canada. It was published in 1990.

The book was a notable one named by the Canadian Library Association, received the first Ann Connor Brimer Award in 1991 for “outstanding contribution to children’s literature in Atlantic Canada” and had international distribution. Continue Reading →

Mining takes to the Toronto stage

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Are you ready for this?  The 2011-2012 Ross Petty pantomime at the Elgin Theatre featured a mining motif.  It is not often that mining takes a bow on stage but the new rendition of the “The Wizard of Oz” not only had miners doing a song and dance routine to “Macho Man” and other numbers but Donnie, one of the main characters was a miner.  Never mind that the Wicked Witch threatens to turn him into “a heap of scrap metal.”

Ross Petty has been producing a Christmas pantomime for 16 years and it has become a popular fixture on Toronto’s theatre scene.  Past productions have included “Peter Pan,” “Cinderella” (who can forget Celine and Shania as the evil step sisters?),”Robin Hood,” “Snow White,” “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Aladdin,” which featured renowned wrestler Bret The Hitman Hart. 

The pantomimes are in the tradition of the old British shows, which included a lot of physical humour and music along with witty social commentary and criticism.  Audience interaction is encouraged and regular ad libbing by all the actors ensures no two performances are exactly alike.  The farce reigns supreme. “The Wizard of Oz” included some good shots at Toronto’s professional hockey team, bicycle paths, libraries and the city’s municipal leadership among others. Continue Reading →