Review of The Happy Lands (directed by Robert Rae, 2013; a Theatre Workshop Scotland production).
This remarkable film is set in an East Fife pit village during the 1926 general strike and the lock-out of mineworkers that followed. It depicts communism as understood and practiced in a working class community. The story was put together by, and re-enacted by, present-day East Fifers, in many cases grandchildren and great-grandchildren of 1926 strikers.
The Happy Lands is an amazing product of collective memory. Meetings were held in the former mining communities; people’s memories, handed down through the generations, were gathered, discussed and compared to written records; and the script was shaped collaboratively. About a thousand volunteers helped on the film – and make up most of the cast, which includes just a handful of professional actors.
The result is no piece of amateur dramatics but a vivid, moving, high-quality feature that speaks to the 21st century. The action starts in May 1926, when a plan by the government and mine owners to cut the wages of 1 million coal miners triggered the UK’s only ever general strike, called by the Trades Union Read the rest of this entry »