Academy Award(R) Winner for Best Documentary, 1990, this acclaimed motion picture captures the stark reality of working men and women making impossibly tough choices about survival during a time of extreme economic crisis.... more » When workers at the Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minnesota, are asked to take a substantial pay cut in a highly profitable year, the local labor union decides to go on strike and fight for a wage they believe is fair. But as the work stoppage drags on and the strikers face losing everything, friends become enemies, families are divided, and the very future of this typical mid-American town is threatened! Also honored with the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Feature Documentary as well as the Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, and the Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival -- you'll be riveted by the compelling real-life drama in this powerful landmark film!« less
"This movie is so dramatically powerful, it's hard to believe it's real life. It's the devastating story of what happens to a small town when it's only industry turns against it. The characters are larger-than-life and the movie sticks with you long after it's over. The viewer is taken on an emotional roller coaster ride from the hopeful beginnings of the strike to the crushing end. Having family in Austin, MN (where the film takes place), I can say that this movie hits the nail on the head all too well. See this film. It's a truly moving experience."
A very educational film
J. P. Warrant | United States | 12/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a high school teacher, and I use this film as a part of a unit entitled "The American Dream." Sure, this film is titled appropriately enough, but its significance runs much deeper.Although I was just in grade school while the Hormel strike was raging, I do remember hearing about it on the news. I found this film to be a candid glimpse into the tenacity of the union struggle as well as a highlight of decisions that impacted people's lives forever.Barbara Kopple did a wonderful job of interviewing union members who felt differently about the struggle going on. Each year, while my class views the film, I wonder whatever happened to the two brothers she highlights in the film -- one who was pro-union, no matter what, and one who decided to cross the picket line to support his family. In the film, the pro-union brother disowns his brother for becoming a scab. I found that family squabble to be classic of the kind of destruction this long, drawn out union battle caused.This film represents the American Dream quite nicely. Here you have hundreds and thousands of union members who are fighting for the American Dream, but whose vision becomes a little cloudy during the struggle. I feel that Barbara Kopple did a good job of presenting the material in an unbiased way, for each year my students seem to view the film in their own ways. Not everyone comes to one conclusion as to which side was right or wrong."
An excellent film about the evolution and effect a strike
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary traces the development of labor unrest at a company that is planning to make substantial reductions in employees' pay. The story is told primarily from the employees' viewpoint, and includes elements of corporate campaigning, local versus international union politics, internal politics, the strike, and loss of employees' jobs. The human perspective is fully developed including emotional peaks and valleys, the strife within families, the decay of relationships between workers, and the the affect on the community. The documentary is extremely well filmed and very moving."
Zane Thomas | Georgia | 04/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the story of what happens when things get way out of control. Workers at a Hormel factory go on strike due to pay decreases and all hell breaks loose. They turn against each other over certain issues. It is a bleak and disturbing look at how low some people can go and the evil things they can impose on love ones and friends when "loyalty" is broken. Haunting."
Powerful document... but be warned...
Benjamin J. Zelkowicz | Valencia, CA | 01/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though it doesnt achieve the dramatic heights of "Harlan County, USA" this film is nonetheless a moving and disturbing document of workers and unions in battle with management, organized labor, and themselves. I have to believe that the person below who cheered the "crushing victory" of management over people who want "to earn more for doing less" was joking. This is a film about meat packers, a thoroughly disgusting job if there ever was one, who try to organize against the Hormel company, which is trying to slash their wages by $2 (It seems to me like management wants to pay the workers less for doing more). Unlike Harlan County, USA, though, the conflict of this film is mostly within the ranks of labor. The battle between international and local unions and between different strategies is what ultimately undermines the the worker's chances for success. A cheery film this is not, but an important one that anyone who cares about our American system of labor and corporate culture should see, along with Harlan County, Roger and Me, and Matewan. Be warned that there are many shots inside the met packing plant, complete with the evisceration and decapitation of many many pigs. It made me very glad I don't eat pork..."