This Film Clip Friday, we highlight a feature length historic narrative film set in Japan before World War Two. Written and Directed by Ryoo Seung-Wan, The Battleship Island is the story of coal miners on the island of Gunkanjima, which is located off the coast of Nagasaki. The island sits on top of a large undersea coal seam, and housed around six thousand people at the peak of mining. During Japan’s colonial era, roughly 1910 to 1945, Many Koreans were captured and forced to work in the coal mines. This film tells the tale of their attempt to escape the island. Today, the island is in the process of being preserved as a UNESCO world heritage site. Follow this link for more details about Battleship Island: The Battleship Island , written and directed by Ryoo Seung-Wan
This Music Monday we honor singer and actor Paul Robeson’s 121st birthday. Robeson was born April 9, 1898 and became a friend and supporter of south Wales miners after he met a delegation of miners on a hunger march in 1929. The singer regularly performed for benefit concerts for the miners’ union and was invited to perform in Wales with the Treorchy mens choir at the Eistedfodd in 1957, but the US government had revoked his passport because he refused to disavow communism socialism mend that the government had revoked his passport. In this clip from a 1949 National Coal Board film, Robeson sings the labor ballad I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill to the Scottish miners Paul Robeson: I dreamed I saw Joe Hill
This week’s Film Clip Friday post highlights The Proud Valley, a feature film set in the coalfields of south Wales starring American actor and singer Paul Robeson. This is one of many ways that Robeson expressed solidarity with mining communities. The story is that Robeson met a delegation of Welsh miners on a hunger march in 1929 and was attracted by their group singing. As a result he helped raise funds and other support for Welsh mining communities. Paul Robeson was invited to perform with the Treorchy men’s choir at the national Eistedfodd (a festival of Welsh culture) in 1957, but the US government had revoked his passport because he refused to disavow communism. Here is a trailer for The Proud Valley, directed by Penrose Tennyson:
This Music Monday we listen to Appalachian musician Rich Kirby performing “Dream of a Miner’s Child.” For an audience of Welsh coal miners. Kirby visited Wales as part of an exchange between Appalachian and Welsh Mining Communities in 1976. During his visit, he performed this song for a continuing education class offered by the National Union of Mineworkers, connecting this Appalachian mining song’s origins to the British Isles. The footage in this clip was recorded by Helen Lewis, John Gaventa, and Richard Greatrex with support from Hywel Francis. Dream Of A Miners Child from Tom Hansell on Vimeo.