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The Devil's Miner
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As we come to know the brothers, we learn their fears and hopes for their future, and occasionally glimpse their childlike souls peeking through their stoic faces. Raised without a father, Basilio must work to support their family and to go to school and study, so that he and his family can one day leave the mines. Working 24 hour shifts, eating cocoa leaves to ward off hunger and drowsiness, Basilio then walks to the city to attend a school, where he is ostracized because he is a working miner. Yet, through it all, Basilio and his family retain a dignity and courage that is inspiring.
The filmmakers bring alive the depths of this mining community and the beauty of the many customs and traditions of the mining town filled with superstition. Each day as they enter the shafts, the Catholic miners bring offerings to carved statues called "Tio", the devil who determines the fate of all who work there. They stage large-scale rituals and sacrifices at the entrance to the mine, and carnivals where they parade through the streets. All of this is their effort to appease the "mountain that eats men alive" where millions of men have died in accidents and of disease and the life expectancy of workers is only 35-40 years old.
A prime example of how social issue films can make a difference, THE DEVIL'S MINER has brought attention to this situation and has encouraged educational and community programs in the US, Europe and Bolivia that are helping to get children out of the mines and into schools.
- Short Film: One Year Later
- Photo gallery
- Film notes
- Study guide
Top Customer Reviews
This movie explains why someone like Evo Morales has come to power in Bolivia, and anyone who derieds such a humble man as Morales needs to watch this DVD.
One of the great things about this doc is that the film makers have a sincere humanitarian purpose. They not only want to educate viewers about the horrors of child labor. But actually do something tangiable to better the lives of these kids.
Included in the bonus features is a short film which shows how Basilio and Bernardino are doing one year after filming. Apparently an aide agency called Kindernothilfe has enabled the boys to leave the mines, move their family into a apartment in Potosi and continue their educations so they will have better opportunities in life.
I wish these great youngsters, and others like them, all the best. They deserve it!
Because of my humanitarian work I have been inside the La Cumbre silver mine, the mountain that eats men. This excellent documentary captures the darkness and dome of those that scrape out a meager living, while at the same time giving the viewer hope for those trapped. There is a light at the end of the shaft, a very small distant light, but light nonetheless.
This is a must view for all who will be going to Bolivia and especially for those who will visit this mine in Potosi. Excellent. Highly Recommended.
What's it like to work in silver mines when you are still a child? This Spanish-language movie, with English subtitles, tells it all. The father had died years ago, and the mother must take care of younger children. So, as is true in other situations where the oldest child must grow up fast and assume many of the responsibilities of the missing parent, the 14 year-old boy must work to support the family. So does his 12 year-old brother. When the 14 year-old moves on to the larger, more profitable mine (in the "mountain that eats people"), the only consolation is the fact that the foreman pledges to the mother that he will watch out for the boy. Mining is arduous and dangerous. The miners of all ages must chew on coca leaves (the precursor to cocaine) in order to combat fatigue.
Most cases of child labor involve situations where generations of people are trapped in poverty. This situation is potentially different. The larger mine has pneumatic drills, suggesting that technological improvements in Bolivian mining will eventually make child labor unprofitable and therefore obsolete. The 12 and 14 year-old boys go to school in hopes that they can get safer and better-paying jobs when they are older. They wear uniforms that their mother can barely afford. As a professional educator, I am struck by the respect for education and its contrast with the often superficial attitudes of American parents and children towards the schooling process.
Both children and adults in this area believe that, whereas God rules the world above ground, the Tio (Satan) rules the underworld.Read more ›
The sight of miners--boys and men alike--walking maskless in and through clouds of mineral dust is truly horrifying. Then when you realize that some of these boys are as young as 12 years old, it's even worse. This scenario, when juxtaposed with miners praying to various statues of the devil--most festooned with flowers, food, and other items of thanks--is almost too bizarre to be believed, especially given the devout Catholicism of the population. But in the mines of Bolivia, the devil is, for better or worse, the chief deity--it is he who holds sway over the daily lives of the miners who, if they live past the age of 40, are considered lucky indeed.
The main character in the film is a 14-year old boy who with his 12-year old brother works in these mines to put food on the table for his broken family (the father is not in the household). He goes to school with his brother and hopes for a better future, but it's relatively clear, seeing the film, that this is really a dim kind of hope.
The Devil's Miner brings to light one of the most tragic plights of people living in poverty in various parts of the world. It's interesting to compare this with a feature film, Blind Shaft, set in China, about two miners who perpetrate a murderous scam to make money additional to their work.
This is a superior film, very highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
the story is true and sad and difficult to put together with today's world, but explains a lot of present day Bolivia.Published 3 months ago by ann caywood
I bought this movie to show students in my Spanish classes. By and large, they are interested in some of the cultural aspects of the movie.Published 11 months ago by Amazonite
Excellent documentary, my students were moved and learned a lot from it !Published 16 months ago by martha e lane
Really puts you in Basilio's shoes. A great representation of Basilio's life, his expectations and the challenges and dangers he faces. Read morePublished on February 1, 2014 by Sammy D
I show this video to my Spanish classes and they get a lot out of it. It shows them to appreciate what they have and how fortunate they are to have what they have. Read morePublished on August 28, 2013 by Abel T. Robles
Decent movie. Spent a LOT of time on the devil worship part of the situation. Would have liked to see more on the mining operations.Published on June 24, 2013 by Thomas Collins
This is not just one of the best documentaries I've ever watched, it is one of the best films. I'd like to write a more detailed review but I simply don't know how to sum up this... Read morePublished on May 31, 2013 by Mr2253
I'm a huge fan of documentaries that show something so completely different, i would have never imagined it existed, let alone in the world toady. Read morePublished on January 14, 2013 by XISDEAD
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