The classic mining film

Submitted by AWL on 1 December, 2020 - 6:35 Author: John Cunningham

The report in Solidarity 573 regarding the Ukrainian miners’ victory prompted me to think of a mining film. Kameradschaft (“Comradeship”, 1931, directed by G. W. Pabst) depicts a gas explosion which traps a number of French miners underground. It is based on events surrounding the terrible 1906 Courriès disaster in France, when 1,099 died. The mine straddles the Franco-German border. When the German miners hear the news they rush to give assistance, and during the rescue operation the miners symbolically dismantle the iron gate separating “French” from “German” coal. When the rescue is complete the French miners’ leader praises their joint efforts, and internationalism triumphs. Considering the rise of the Nazis only two years later, the film has a particularly powerful message, as relevant today as it was then.

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