Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Miners' Film, The (1975)

Courtesy of Cinema Action

Main image of Miners' Film, The (1975)
Produced, Directed, Filmed and Edited byCinema Action

The miners' strikes, struggles and way of life are celebrated as the vital part of Britain's trade union movement.

Show full synopsis

The Miners' Film (d. Cinema Action, 1974-75) is epic in conception. The miners' work and way of life are portrayed as integral. Their importance is stressed by the film's opening, which contends that the economic health of the nation is at the cost of miners' lives. When a miner is asked what is really in the national interest, he feels that a more just society will be what he can try to leave his children.

Former Cinema Action member Steve Sprung has described The Miners' Film as "filmic [not] like a television programme... this is a film to represent the... traditions and aspirations of the miners".

Unlike Cinema Action's campaign films, which were made during the actions they depict, the outcome of the miners' strikes was well understood by the time of the film's completion. Edward Heath's government was defeated at the election he called quickly during the strike, hoping for public support. In this respect, the film is like Cinema Action's earlier Arise Ye Workers (1973).

A 1976 article in the journal Afterimage praised the latter for placing the narrative section of a successful campaign between depictions of continuing struggle. The Miners' Film was criticised for presenting past events as if they were still unresolved and thereby lulling worker audiences into a false sense of comfort when the narrative closes them successfully. However, the film's insistence on allowing ordinary miners, their families and lower-ranking union officials to articulate their views belies this argument. Its position is clearly that of respect for the miners and a desire to encourage other workers to emulate them.

A sad historical irony of the above arguments is that The Miners' Film was just as relevant ten years on and needed only a new prologue and epilogue when shown on Channel 4 during the miners' strike of 1984-85.

Kieron Webb

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. 'Pay up or shut up' (1:53)
2. The struggle (4:33)
3. The battle for Saltley (4:31)
Arise Ye Workers (1973)
Class Struggle: Film from the Clyde (1977)
Faith (2005)
Which Side Are You On? (1984)
Cinema Action
King Coal