The Miners' Hymns
Johann Johannsson’s score was chosen by the New Yorker’s classical music critic Alex Ross as the movie soundtrack of the year, and fittingly so: this is a major new work, a stirring, sombre symphony composed as an elegy for the lost livelihoods of British coal-miners.
Comprised of black and white archival footage (and two contemporary colour aerial sequences), and entirely wordless, the film depicts the hardship of pit work, the role of Trade Unions in organizing and fighting for workers’ rights, the years of increased mechanization and the pitched battles between miners and police that took place during massive strikes in 1984 and sounded the death knell for the British mining industry.
“10/10! Miners’ Hymns is not only showing what happened, or what was recorded then, but also asking how any of us might see it. If mining is about digging and producing, struggling and surviving, the film is about how we conceive these themes, how films teach us to see. How do you understand depictions of the past, in so many contexts, alongside the present (your own present, someone else’s), with knowledge of subsequent images, not to mention a certain sense of yourself, changed as you watch? How is history ever anything but what you receive, your trust or skepticism of seeming sources, a narrative reframed each moment by what you see next?” Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters Editor and Film and Media Studies Program Director, George Mason University
"In keeping with Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score—alternately ominous, triumphant, and elegiac—“The Miners’ Hymns” plays on the broader emotions of the subject. The film is all about the mysterious world down below, how camaraderie turned to conflict, and the nagging feeling of loss." Noel Murray, AV Club