Matewan tells the story of an incident in the struggle to unionise Mingo County in the West Virginia coalfield. For the steel workers’ strike see D Brody, Labor in Crisis: No matter how brave and determined, the miners would have been beaten in an armed conflict with regular troops. The official estimate was four, but both sides deliberately concealed their casualties and buried their dead in secret. They spoke with a mixture of pride and resignation about the mining — resignation about how dark and dirty and cold and wet and dangerous it was and pride that they were the people to do it, to do it well. On the fourth occasion hundreds of miners opened fire on the town from the surrounding hills until the company complied. He was arrested in July following a bomb attack on a pro-war parade that left ten dead.

At the very least, however, the film succeeds in raising important issues for thought and discussion. Sayles ends his story before this event took place, perhaps because he wished to leave on a positive note since the Battle for Blair Mountain resulted in a major defeat for UMWA. The strike continued and it was not until the end of December that a general return to work had taken place. None of those responsible were ever brought to trial. It is highly appropriate, dealing as it does with a cab drivers’ strike. Sayles quite deliberately decided to make Kenehan a pacifist. About 4, men assembled and began a march on Logan County with the intention of overthrowing the rule of sheriff Don Chafin before continuing into Mingo where they would settle the dispute once and for all.

Lively walked over, in front movid a crowd of onlookers, to finish him off with a bullet in the head. Despite 12 witnesses and conclusive photographic evidence proving he was elsewhere, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

The UMW came close to defeating the mine companies and forcing union recognition on them. Slowly the miners pressed forward in a series of outflanking attacks until they had captured half the mountain ridge.


D Corbin, op cit, pp; R L Lewis, op cit, pp No matter how brave and determined, the miners would have been beaten in an armed conflict with regular troops. On 3 September the day was saved by the arrival of over 2, US troops sent in by President Harding. The solidarity of black and aanalysis, Protestant and Catholic, immigrant and native miners was unbreakable.

On 1 August Hatfield, together with his deputy, Ed Chambers, both unarmed, were analyss dead on the courthouse steps by Baldwin-Felts agents. They came from more than different communities with their own supply organisations. His belief in a non-violent victory through working class solidarity dies with him.

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Something happens this evening wholly unplanned. This is to be wholeheartedly welcomed.

He first broke into the film industry as a scriptwriter, working on cheap Hollywood productions such as PiranhaThe Lady in Red and Alligator among others. In the play, a striker exposes his brother as a fink. By union membership was down to 10, of whom over 7, were unemployed. But it’s less a piece of social realism than an American folk epic, a Western-in-reverse. This particular phase, immediately after the First World War, was to culminate in the march on company controlled Logan County by over 15, armed miners and in the week long battle for Blair Mountain which only came to an end with the intervention of federal troops.

This was indeed the case in company towns, but not in Matewan, an independent town with elected officials, where the baptist church served as a union meeting place. It is worth briefly noting here a number of other ways in which Sayles has adapted the historical record for dramatic purposes.

Matewan (Film) – TV Tropes

For the strike see R. The people I read about in the history books and the people I met in the hills of Kentucky and West Virginia had important stories to tell and I wanted to pass them on.


Discontent was also building up among the miners with a rash of unofficial strikes in the summer of and demands for a general strike to secure the movis of Tom Mooney 20a revolutionary socialist framed for a bombing in San Francisco in For the miners of West Virginia the strike was too late. Much to Kenehan’s amazement, he does not side with the company.

National action by the UMW and solidarity action from other unions could still have won the day.

His death in the analydis gunfight is arguably testimony to the fact that his beliefs are, in the end, irrelevant. Seizure Led to FloJo’s Death.

Matewan: film and working class struggle

His film was not a documentary but is best regarded as a powerful fictional celebration of working class analsis and solidarity that made dramatic use of the historic Matewan episode. Van Tine, John L.

Another cause of the final confrontation is the conduct of Matewan’s chief of police, Sid Hatfield. Feldman, Labour Repression in the American South: Sayles uses this tradition and the left-wing Depression literary strains as if they’d never fallen out of fashion.

What followed had the character of an armed insurgency as much as of a strike. This was despite the murderous activities of the company guards and private detectives. The protest did save his life with the mxtewan being commuted to life imprisonment.

On this occasion, he doesn’t quite make it.