I give the movie 5 stars. Unfortunately this version on DVD is very poor quality - thus the 2 stars. The beautiful original cinematography by Haskell Wexler is cropped from the original 1.85:1 ratio, and the audio is pretty bad as well. Why is it that so many films released on DVD in Australia are like this - cropped to 4:3 ratio to "fill up the screen" and looking like they have been copied from an old video tape. The film itself is one of John Sayles's best.
Matewan is probably the best movie made on the US trade union movement and features great performances by the young Chris Cooper and David Strathairn who went on to become regulars in John Sayles's ensemble casts.
Terrific John Sayles film about a brutal confrontation in a small American town between powerful corporate interest and the early union movement.
Interesting story of early days of unionism in the USA. Some effort to flesh out smaller roles might have helped story along. Obviously a damaged print was used as the master for this as picture quality varies considerably throughout film.
Quite depressing to watch, however learning about the history of the difficulties facing miners in 1920's was interesting, particularly the ruthless companies that thought they could get away with anything, including murder. Powerful role by the town's lawman, standing up for the human rights of the community. James Earl Jones always has a presence in films and this was no different. Gutsy stuff.