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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Deep Down

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July 16, 2010

Movie Review Friday: Deep Down

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Deep Down (2010)

Available on DVD and coming soon to select public-television channels

For Appalachians, coal mining is either a vital source of survival or a massively destructive force. In Maytown, a small mining community in eastern Kentucky, the sedimentary rock pits neighbor against neighbor, turning the closest friends into the fiercest foes. Deep Down, an hour-long documentary, portrays this clash of ideology in a town torn apart by mountaintop-removal coal mining.

The educational film follows Beverly May and Terry Ratliff, lifelong friends and Maytown citizens that live on opposite sides of the mountain – and opposite sides of the strip-mining issue. When a coal company approaches Ratliff with a big check and intent to mine his property, the struggling carpenter is torn between preserving his homeland and securing financial safety. With rallies, town-hall meetings, and petitions, his friend May sets out to convince him – and, she hopes, the rest of the community – that the environmentallly destructive practice should end.

Deep Down is a good example of its genre, telling a story rather than explaining an issue. Compelling narrative dominates the documentary, complemented by sufficient scientific facts to drive home the prevailing message: Coal is dirty. This heartbreaking but ultimately heartwarming account of a small mining community weaves in humor, color, and suspense, making it well worth a look.

--Sarah A.Henderson

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