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      American Dream

      PG-13 Released Mar 18, 1990 1 hr. 40 min. Documentary List
      100% 13 Reviews Tomatometer 88% 1,000+ Ratings Audience Score This acclaimed documentary focuses on a mid-1980s workers' strike at a Hormel meatpacking plant in Minnesota. After employees have both their wages and benefits cut, the local union endorses a strike, but complications arise when the national branch of the union doesn't follow suit. This divide in viewpoints has unexpected consequences for organized labor in the United States, and makes for intriguing depictions of workers' rights, strikes and union negotiations. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

      View All (20) audience reviews
      andrea m If today I was asked how much do I care about an American meatpacking plant holding a strike in the 80s, I think the answer would be pretty obvious. However, I was really intrigued by this documentary. The events are actually compelling and are brilliantly reported. There is something so actual in the poignant struggle between employers and workers, local and parent union, strikers and "scabs". It is an extremely complex situation where there is no real evil: the only sure thing is that the price of it all is once again paid by the working class. This is something that never changes. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member This documentary does a great job framing passionate works against ‘the man' the big wigs, the people with money. The workers believe they can force the company to cave in even when the international union in Washington refuses to back. They don't swallow the pill that they are given. The stand tall, they stand true even against worst odds. It is a documentary about the human spirit, that sounds cliche, but it is true. Standing up for your beliefs and what you feel is right no matter what the cost. The town of Austin MN becomes a town unrest and the economy of the town begins to crumble. The works stand true to what they believe is right still. I'm the end most of the workers get replaced by Hormel. But what Hormel can not replace is their dignity and there beliefs for what is right. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/17/23 Full Review Audience Member A hard bitting & honest to the core documentary following the seemingly doomed Union Uprising against the Hormel Packed Meats corporation in the US in the mid 1980's. Follows both the workers & union activists in this journey & the dedication of the workers some oh strike as long as 60 weeks. Unfortunately there is no happy ending in the film keeping the story truthful & realistically quite tragic. A terrific documentary that captures the every day American working man struggle. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/31/23 Full Review Audience Member This was a great movie about how the corporations and the government they own screw the workers and labor in general. This event with Hormel was a big blow to labor and was a big defeat for the honest, hard working men and women everywhere in America. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/25/23 Full Review jack c Gives you a painful but honest on all sides look at what labor unions have to go through when they go into strike-mode, and how corporations, starting in the 80's, say the unions flaws in negotiating as a means to get in to change things for their benefit. It's that kind of movie though that doesn't discriminate in a key way - I think if you're pro-union or anti-union even, you can get something out of this take by how Kopple presents everything. The characters here all want what's best, but it's not so simple as'let's negotiate a contract'. Sides become fractured, tempers get flared, and a 'labor consultant' arguably muddies the waters early on in the negotiating. By the time it gets to be many weeks into the strike, some of the folks on the picket lines get desperate, cross and go back to work, and the sides become even more fractured. It's about the Hormel meat-packing district, but the staying power of the film is this: it could be anywhere. Is it just about if wages decrease by two dollars, or four dollars, or about something more when it comes to bargaining, the rights of workers, and who is really in control? The interviews and perspective are in large part on Lewie Anderson, who probably has the most common sense as we can see it (or rather in comparison with the Consultant Ray Rogers, who is technically a corporate guy as well), and how he has to approach the union and the chief committee about where to go with Hormel - and of course the flaws are there, like rewriting the contract that has forty years of bargaining in it for the rights of the workers. This is not to say that, for the warts-and-all approach Kopple takes, that she is on the side of the corporate masters at Hormel. We see one of their spokesman, who is a down-the-line party guy (maybe not as villainous as, say, a Roger Smith from Roger & Me, but what is). But it's mostly there, in those halls and on the picket lines and in those smokey, emotional offices that Kopple takes her sights and tells this story. It is a complicated tale to tell, that is without easy answers, but by the end you can't say you don't see how things did not turn out well, especially with the greater picture (albeit not shown really or at least on the level of the 'smaller-but-bigger' picture the director paints) that the country was in at the time, and still are. What happens to these Americans, all hard workers, when faced against corporate pressures, and then other workers are brought in across the picket lines. What happens to society? Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Good doc, interesting emotions and strategies, and a close-up view of trade unions and U.S. blue collar workers' values at the time. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/12/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

      View All (13) Critics Reviews
      Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times Its focus on the smoldering economic fury of working-class Americans adroitly illuminates the reasons for the backlash that politicians of both parties are finding increasingly difficult to ignore. Aug 13, 2018 Full Review Janet Maslin New York Times Ms. Kopple's stirring, forthright film captures an American town, the strength of its traditions and the deep and permanent ways in which those traditions can be destroyed. Her work is as important as it is good. May 20, 2003 Full Review Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times Stories like the Hormel strike are too long and complicated to be told on a daily basis. Only a documentary like this has a canvas big enough for the whole picture. Rated: 4/4 Jan 1, 2000 Full Review Marya E. Gates Cool People Have Feelings, Too. (Substack) A bleak portrait of class struggle and solidarity, that frankly left me incredibly depressed when it was over. Feb 13, 2024 Full Review TV Guide [An] ambitious, socially concerned documentary... Rated: 3/4 Aug 13, 2018 Full Review Murray Kempton The New York Review of Books [Kopple's] gift is to make us feel almost as kin to the few who quit as to the many who stuck it out. There is no cruelty quite like that which gives a man or woman no choice except the surrender of dignity for a job or of a job for dignity. Aug 13, 2018 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis This acclaimed documentary focuses on a mid-1980s workers' strike at a Hormel meatpacking plant in Minnesota. After employees have both their wages and benefits cut, the local union endorses a strike, but complications arise when the national branch of the union doesn't follow suit. This divide in viewpoints has unexpected consequences for organized labor in the United States, and makes for intriguing depictions of workers' rights, strikes and union negotiations.
      Director
      Barbara Kopple
      Distributor
      Miramax Films, Home Vision Entertainment, Homegreen Films
      Production Co
      Cabin Creek
      Rating
      PG-13
      Genre
      Documentary
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Mar 18, 1990, Original
      Release Date (DVD)
      Mar 2, 2004
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $11.5K