chapter  Five
13 Pages

A Mining Film without a Disaster is like a Western without a Shoot-out: Representations of Coal Mining Communities in Feature Films

ByBert Hogenkamp

Many of the mining films have been set in the 'classic' coalfields of Europe and North America. This chapter explores the ways in which mining communities have been represented in feature films from a number of different countries. Three sources, from which film makers drew their inspiration, played their part in creating a means of 'seeing' mining communities and their influence can be discerned in the types of images produced by film makers. While generally unconcerned with the details of miners' working practices, the location of that work – the coalface – has invariably been used by the film maker for a different purpose: that of presenting danger, disaster and escape. The modern trade union official became a figure to be pitied in a number of British mining films. The extent to which so many of the same dramaturgic elements can be found in films made under such different conditions and in so many different coalfields is striking indeed.