Parents' Guide to

Harlan County, USA

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Riveting 1976 docu about striking miners has some violence.

Movie PG 1977 103 minutes
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What is most striking about Harlan County, USA is Barbara Koppel's total immersion into the lives and culture of Harlan County, Kentucky, and the coal miners who live there. She and her film crew were there for 5 a.m. showdowns between the striking miners and the strike breakers on county roads, there as miners told stories and sang songs of their lives and living conditions on their front porches, there in the mines to show the incredible hardships miners faced each and every working day. She's even there when shots are fired from the strikebreakers.

This total immersion results in a riveting and intense documentary -- as informative as it is deeply moving. Harlan County, USA has stood the test of time as a courageous film showing courageous coal miners and their families as much motivated by ideals as they are by not having much left to lose.

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