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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2010
Travel round many of the old British mining areas today and it's hard to imagine the scale of the mining industry fifty years and more ago - an industry that employed tens of thousands and was the heart and soul of many of our industrial communities. After doing a little research into the County Durham mining, I came across `Portrait of a Miner' and decided to take a chance.

The contents are an eclectic collection of the mining review (what today we would call a magazine program, produced by the National Coal Board) and sundry other informational programs covering technical, business and social aspects of mining and mining communities from the 1940's to the late 1970's. In total, there is over three and a half hours of footage although the individual programs are quite short - ranging from five to fifteen or so minutes. As well as mining coal, you will see singing, dancing, ponies, pigeons, brief nudity and learn the intimate details of selecting and using a shovel. The styles are as varied as the contents including black and white, color, animation, news-like narration, interviews and rather cheesy dramatizations.

Released by the BFI, Volume One (...which suggests that more are planned), is a two DVD set, packaged in the usual way and comes with a very nicely produced booklet (50+ pages) covering the background to the material. All has been remastered and within the limits of the original material, I found the picture and sound quality throughout very good. Overall this is a good quality package, nicely produced and nicely presented.

The appeal of the material is obviously specific. Clearly this will appeal to anyone interested in the modern history of the mining industry. There is also some technical information, but it really doesn't go into too much detail. Probably the richest area is the social history that is woven throughout the programs and if you're interested in that aspect of British life - particularly in the 1950's and 1960's, you'll find this an absolutely fascinating collection and well worth the money. This part of our heritage disappeared fast. Some of the footage here is from little more than 30 years ago - yet is seems as distant as the Corn Laws or the battle of Waterloo. When you've finally decided to buy a copy, listen to the poignant change in tone of the various narrators between the 1960's and 1970's programs. The rest - as they say - is history.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2010
These short films, providing over 5 hours of viewing, were made between 1947-78, and feature a wide range of topics, including health and safety provision and advice, plus the working and social/domestic lives of the miners, also, the demands of management for increased production and more efficiency.
We follow the miners on their journey, beginning with the descending cage, then riding along on the often long journey to the Pit face, here, we often see the fitting of pit props, and the introduction of more efficient coal producing machinery.

The wide span of the films also allow varied coverage of subjects, from work related advice (how to use a shovel!) and the odd educational cartoon, to Pit Ponies and whippet racing. The great comradeship of the miners also shines through. The stories come from England, Scotland, and Wales. Understandably, about the only thing missing from these films is a certain ingredient - the legendary "Pit language", although there is brief nudity.
This is an interesting historical and social record of the miners lives, and the mines.

Here is a list of the films with brief details:

Mining Review 1st Year No.1 - Cutter Loader/Five Day Week/The Miner's Song.(1947,B/W,8 mins)
King Coal.(1948/colour/3 mins)
Nines Was Standing.(1950,B/W,18 mins)
Miners Health Centre.(1948,B/W,2 mins)
Mining Review 2nd Year No 10 - Replanning A Coalfield.(1949,B/W,10 mins)
Mining Review 2nd Year No 12 - Holiday Camp/Beside The Sea/Up River/Pitmen's Derby.(1949,B/W,10 mins)
Plan For Coal.(1952,B/W,19 mins)
The Shovel.(1953,B/W,17 mins)
Time Out.(1954,B/W,3 mins)
Balletomines.(1954,B/W,3 mins)
Hungarians In Britain.(1957,B/W,4 mins)
New Power In Their Hands.(1959,B/W,21 mins)
Mining Review 13th Year No 4 - The Art Of Mining/Speaking Through Coal/Mounted Minors/Record Pit.(1959,B/W,10 mins)
Stormy Genius.(1960,B/W,2 mins)
Arthur Clears The Air.(1961/colour/30 mins)
Whitehaven Whippets.(1962,B/W,3 mins)
Mining Review 16th Year No 6 - A Story From South Wales.(1963,B/W,10 mins)
Songs Of The Coalfields.(1964,B/W,14 mins)
Big Job.(1965/colour/2 mins)
Portrait Of A Miner.(1966,B/W,28 mins)
Nobody's Face.(1966,B/W,19 mins)
The First Adventures Of Thud And Blunder.(1964/colour/3 mins)
Mining Review 20th Year No 9 - Marilyn/Out Of Darkness/North Star.(1967,B/W,10 mins)
Hands, Knees And Bumps A Daisy.(1969/colour/4 mins)
Mining Review 22nd Year No 5 - She.(1969,B/W,10 mins)
What About That Job - Case Studies For Management No 1.(1970,B/W,5 mins)
The Bother Breeder - Case Studies For Management No 4.(1970,B/W,5 mins)
Man Failure.(1971/colour/17 mins)
I'll See You - Too Late Now No 2.(1976/colour/2 mins)
A Beautiful Memory - Too Late Now No 3.(1976/colour/2 mins)
You Pick The Moment - Too Late Now No 4.(1976/colour/2 mins)
Miners.(1976/colour/24 mins)
Review 32nd Year No 1 - Band Fever.(1978/colour/10 mins)
40 Years On.(1978/colour and B/W,19 mins)

All 34 films are equally split between two discs, with excellent remastered picture quality and good Dolby digital Mono sound, plus English subtitles. Also included is an informative 52-page booklet, with full details of each film, with everything stored in a slim, sturdy cardboard case. WARNING! The Film "King Coal" contains light patterns that may be harmful to viewers susceptible to epileptic seizures.

Another top-notch release from the BFI.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2013
As an ex miner I enjoyed this . I can still remember watching some of the films whilst I was a trainee. I would recamend this to anyone who has an interest in mining or social history. This was volume 1 I hope that there is a volume 2 if so I shall purchase this imediately. This was from my point of view money well spent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2015
Portrait of a Miner is a must have for any ex miners DVD shelf! As memories of a hard working life underground fade this DVD brings those memories flooding back in an informative and entertaining way, it's a history of British mining caught on film from the turn of the 20th century to just before the industries demise! The DVD in my opinion is very well put together and consists of a wealth of short informative films some of which were used as part of a Miners training prior to going underground, from "how to use a shovel" to "nobody's face" this DVD will not just entertain but will keep the once great British mining industry alive if only on film! I enjoyed all 5 and a bit hours so sit back... "Fire up the machine" and "get some water on" and enjoy another shift underground, in the dust and grime, the sweat the camaraderie and the longing for times past will never die as you hear the words "Shearer" "Panzer" and "Coal" for the first time in a long time! Thatcher couldn't take our memories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2014
Excellent especial for people who had worked in the Mining Industry, brought back for me many great times & memory's. I started as a Poney Drive in 1957 went to night school & finally got my Mine Manager Certificate in 1967.
Managed serve real mines in Australia.
It would have a wide range of interest for anyone associated with mining, especially in the Old Country. Thank you for an excellent presentation.
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on 11 April 2015
For the life of the Nationalised coal industry monthly film features were released free of charge for showing in cinemas, in fewer cinemas as the mines declined. This DVD contains some complete ten minute films, some excerpts and some longer more detailed documentaries.

The subject matter is sometimes technical but usually aimed at a general audience, and always beautifully photographed. While based upon what they heard miners talking about, the filmed miners are scripted (and it shows) but that isn't a big problem. So sad to hear of enough coal for generations when there was so little time left.

The 15 certificate on the box is for one documentary aimed at reducing pit accidents- which shows a man injured. This one documentary would also today be thought of as somewhat sexist as the accident is said to be due to inattention whilst mind on females.
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on 9 September 2015
Compilation of old British archive short films on the lives and work of coal miners. Charming and fascinating, anyone with personal or ancestral links to the industry, or a simply fascination with mining, will find this a real treat.

Documents the story of the challenges and development of the industry, particularly post-nationalisation from 1947.

Comprises 2 DVDs ( total run time approx 6 hours B/W format mono sound ) and an accompanying booklet.
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on 20 October 2015
I worked down the pit for 15 years beginning as a 16 year old in 1979. I had a great career before the mines shut and I went onto something new with a career change. This did shows what I went through and is a great reminder of an industry that is no more. Love nostalgic and should be watched by everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2015
some very old footage, as an ex miner it brought back some fond memories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2015
It was for my father-inlaw .and he really enjoyed it .great fast service
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