In the movie Matewan, the citizens of Matewan, a coal-mining town in West Virginia have to fight against the Stone Mountain Coal Company to keeps their town and homes. The company wants to gain complete control over the town of Matewan and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve control. To me it appears that the Stone Mountain Coal Company is maintaining some sort of slavery over its workers because they contract them against a union, denying them control over their own lifestyles and identities. The Stone Mountain Coal Company exploits the ignorance of its employees to maintain power in Matewan. This is until Joe Kenehan arrives in the town. He arrives in Matewan and stays at a boarding house run by Elma Radnor, a widow whose husband was blown up in a mining accident, and he son Danny, who is only 15 years old and is a miner and a preacher.
Matewan (1987) is an American drama by John Sayles, illustrating the events of a coal mine-workers' strike and attempt to unionize in 1920 in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia. It was 1920 in the southwest West Virginia coal mines and things were tough. In response to efforts by miners to organize into a labor union, the Stone Mountain Coal Company announces it will cut the pay miners receive, and will be importing replacement workers into town to replace those who join the union. The new workers are African Americans from Alabama and are coming in on the train, but the train is stopped outside town and the black men are told to get off. Derided as "scabs," they are then attacked by the local miners, but manage to get back on the train and continue their journey.
Witnessing the attack is Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper), a passenger on the train and an organizer for the United Mine Workers. He arrives in Matewan and takes up residence at a boarding house run by a coal miner's widow, Elma Radnor (Mary McDonnell), and her 15-year-old son, Danny (Will Oldham), who is also a miner and a...