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The Miners' Hymns

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The ill-fated coal mining communities in North East England are the subject of this inspired documentary by multi-media artist Bill Morrison (Decasia). Their story is told entirely without words, yet the film is far from silent: it features a remarkable original score by the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Using rarely-seen footage from the British Film Institute, the BBC, and other archives, THE MINERS' HYMNS celebrates social, cultural, and political aspects of the extinct industry. Focusing on the Durham coalfield located in northeastern England, it depicts the hardship of pit work, the role of Trade Unions in organizing and fighting for workers' rights, the years of increased mechanization and the annual Miners' Gala in Durham. The film shows the pitched battles between miners and police that took place during massive strikes in 1984 and sounded the death knell for the British mining industry. It also includes two contemporary aerial sequences, shot in color from a helicopter flying over the sites of former collieries, that have since become sites of modern consumerism.

About the Actor

Jóhann Jóhannsson is an Icelandic composer. Jóhann´s background is in Iceland s vibrant alternative music scene, but his best known work combines classical orchestration with electronic music. He created a unique blend of chamber music and electronics on the album Englabörn in 2002 and has since released 5 solo albums on the labels Touch and 4AD, including Virthulegu Forsetar (2004), scored for a brass ensemble, electronic drones and percussion, and the orchestral albums Fordlandia (2008) and IBM 1401 A User s Manual (2006), a composition which uses sounds produced from the electromagnetic emissions of an old IBM 1401 mainframe computer. Jóhann has written scores for 9 international feature films and has won awards for his film music at the Rhode Island and Sapporo IFFs. Jóhann has also composed actively for theatre and contemporary dance. Jóhann is a founder of the Reykjavik Kitchen Motors label / think tank / art collective and of the group Apparat Organ Quartet. He has performed in venues all over the world with his ensemble, including Centre Pompidou, London Barbican, Brussels Palais des Beaux Arts, and the Prague Rudolfinum.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jóhann Jóhannsson (music)
  • Directors: Bill Morrison
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Icarus Films
  • DVD Release Date: October 2, 2012
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008KUF1R4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,276 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Individuals are so used to "narrative cinema" unfolding a conventional story that something entirely different becomes incomprehensible. This movie rates with "Grapes of Wrath" in honestly depicting the dignity of those laborers who brought us the commodities that we all take for granted - whether coal, copper, or corn. But these coal fields are now replaced by a newer world - which although less bleak is also less meaningful. The beginning of the film shows the present...but what forms the heart of the film is the past.

There is no dialogue. Accompanied by a haunting brass score, the film is a sequence of slow motion archival footage of coal miners, their union organizers, and their families. One scene bleeds into another and another so that time is suspended. Watching and listening, the film operates as a life experience. And that experience made me meditate on the true meaning of community - one that lives together, works together, feasts together, and dies together. Without speech, the film speaks instead to our subconscious. As to the photography, we witness the coal miners descending a shaft to enter a narrow dark hell, we cheer their parades, we sympathize with their union solidarity, One of the most emotional images is a mass of faces waiting for news of survivors in a mining disaster. The music repeatedly evokes those long forgotten brass bands celebrating the laborers.

This is raw cinema ... in an old form - e.g. the silent Soviet film "Earth (1930)" ... or is it new? Astonishing, brave, brilliant, and profound.
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If you have family ties to coal mining in the Durham (UK) coal fields, this is a must see. Fantastic, down in the mine views of the evolution of digging by pick to the final days of automated mining. Touching scenes of the final days of the coal fields following the breaking of the strikes by government forces. Beautiful air views of the reclaimed areas that used to be collieries.
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Haunting and other-worldly this film says so much without words. The music and imagery mesh completely- I really felt being down in the mine. You get an incredible sense of the landscape and land so that you smell it and feel the damp.
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The music was excellent
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