The Power Sruggle in the Film, Matewan

The Power Sruggle in the Film, Matewan
The film Matewan brings to life the workings of a small West Virginia coal-mining town in the 1920?s. Stone Mountain, as the town was called, existed for mining exclusively. Every resident of the town worked for the Stone Mountain Coal Company. The company was the dominant force in the community, acting as a feudal lord. It owned all the land, residential areas and restaurants. In this particular town residents had no other choice than to work for the Coal Company because it had monopoly control over all the resources thus creating a feudal economic system. The miners were forced into a bondage contract with the company, because of the lack of choice they had regarding their employment, which is a fundamental element in a feudal system. The owners of the Stone Mountain Coal Company who profit from the coal generated never actually stepped foot on the Stone Mountain mine land.
They had no idea who worked for them and what their situations were. The workers never knew their employer instead the owners sent two representatives to ensure the excavation of the coal happened. The representatives became a third force necessary for the existence of feudal economy in Matewan. They were sent from the company to manage the organization and production of the mine. The representativesÕ primary job was to enforce the rules that the company had established in order to maintain power of the town, mine and essentially the workers. They used threats to induce fear in the miners as a way to stimulate and motivate them to work, because the miners had little significant reason to work besides basic survival. The Coal Company exploited the workers by underpaying them and restricting their freedom as consumers. The miners were forced to buy their own tools, clothes, food, etc. from the Ôcompany storeÕ many times at higher prices than necessary. This created circulation of money from the company to the laborer back to the company. The miners worked for obvious reasons: to supply themselves and their families with shelter, food and clothing. They relied on company power to supply a means of employment. However, the company in turn relied on the laborers, because without them the company would have no means by which to excavate the coal and continue the production process. Religion played a significant role in the film. It became a bond that brought the townspeople/workers together despite their mixed ethnicities. Sermons were used as a means of communication between townspeople. The companyÕs two representatives attended church, but more as a way to ensure that an uprising was not planned against the company. Organized assemblies, such as mass, were usually discouraged in feudal economies. However, Matewan residents seem to maintain their religion. The company representatives view religion as something of a joke and mock it, therefor creating as innocent and weak notion about MatewanÕs religious activities. As it turns out religion helped weld the town together. In the beginning of the film the miners learn that the tonnage rate had dropped, ultimately decreasing their already low wages. Stone Mountain?s owner most likely thought of this as a way to motivate the workers to produce more and increase the profits at the same time. However, it had the reverse effect. A strike against the company was organized by the miners to counteract the harsh enforcement and unjust rules. The workers ultimately formed a union in order to create a stronger presence and opposition to the company. However, a company spy causes a disturbance within the union lying about the union?s ?leader.? Discrimination and lack of trust begin to break the union apart causing weaknesses. A union is strong if people stand together and fight for the same cause. When the union collapses the miners decide to fight the company themselves. Lacking any type of military tactics and training the miners face the company representatives with only their courage, bravery and desire for true freedom. The bloody brawl last only a few minutes and ends with the company still in power. In a sense this proves that the company does in fact own the lives of the workers because the company losses very little when the miners die. The company owners will still reap the benefits, services and profits created by the workers and maintain the position of power in Matewan.

The Power Sruggle in the Film, Matewan 9.4 of 10 on the basis of 3216 Review.