‘Matewan’ Criterion Summary
Written and directed by John Sayles, this wrenching historical drama recounts the true story of a West Virginia coal town where the local miners’ struggle to form a union rose to the pitch of all-out war in 1920. When Matewan’s miners go on strike, organizer Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper, in his film debut) arrives to help them, uniting workers white and black, Appalachia-born and immigrant, while urging patience in the face of the coal company’s violent provocations. With a crackerjack ensemble cast—including James Earl Jones, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, and Will Oldham—and Oscar-nominated cinematography by Haskell Wexler, Matewan taps into a rich vein of Americana with painstaking attention to local texture, issuing an impassioned cry for justice that still resounds today.
Director-Approved Special Edition Features
- New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director John Sayles, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Audio commentary from 2013 featuring Sayles and cinematographer Haskell Wexler
- Two new documentaries on the making of the film featuring Sayles, producer Maggie Renzi, production designer Nora Chavooshian, and actors Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Will Oldham, and David Strathairn
- New interview with composer Mason Daring
- Short documentary on the impact that Matewan’s production had on West Virginia
- New program on the film’s production design featuring Chavooshian
- PLUS: An essay by critic A. S. Hamrah
New cover by Eric Skillman
Available on Amazon.com .