A Day in the Life of a Coalminer (track #8 on The Movies Begin, Volume Three: Experimentation and Discovery (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

This fascinating film is probably one of the first documentaries ever made, showing us the real work of real turn-of-the-century coalminers. There are many unforgetable images here of men being squeezed like sardines into tiny elevators, men working in dark, cavelike corridors hundreds of feet underneath the ground and looking like they never get a chance to stand upright all day, men getting paid a small handful of coins for their labors. But what's really striking is the women. Yes, there are dozens of women in this mine doing such "women's work" as loading huge logs onto handcarts, hunching over a conveyor belt sorting coal, and standing on top of coal hoppers poking the coal with pitchforks. The classist ending will disgust you, or you have a heart of stone, I'll warrant. A fascinating historical document of hard, dirty labor. A 1910 Kinetescope film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

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