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on 19 July 2015
Whilst not pretending to know much about the art of filmmaking I believe that this is a great movie. I am a Fifer, born in St.Andrews, raised in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline. My mother was born and raised in the Bowhill area in West Fife in 1933 and she told me many stories of her upbringing there and about her parents and extended family who were miners and of mining families. Sadly I never knew my mining ancestors. The "Happy Lands", the name given to the streets where the children used to play and laugh, were indeed her playground as a young girl.She often spoke about the great spirit of community she experienced there whilst growing up. This is very much reflected in the film. Indeed watching it I actually felt her stories come to life and it was as I was watching members of my family past; my Great "Grandai" Ross, the miner who was in charge of a team of men and who worked his own son, also in his team, too hard so as to prove to the other men that he did not show his own son any favouritism. Unfortunately he was almost working his own son to death! This ended when my great grandmother stepped in and demanded that their
son be moved to another team. The strength of the miners wives demonstrated and this is reflected in the film. My grandfather John Marr was especially skilled in many aspects of mining including the use of explosives and in first aid. I remember reading his old first aid book as a kid. He was buried alive for several days and eventually rescued but had sustained a head injury which left him prone to epileptic seizures. An air raid warden during WW2 he was sometimes unable to perform his duties because of his epilepsy and at those times his wife, my grandmother, would put on his tin hat etc and do the job in his place. When my mother was born in 1933 she had no heartbeat andonly survived because of the tenacity and skill of the local GP. Whenever the GP met her again, even as she was a bright young thing in her twenties, he referred to her as "his miracle baby". Such spirit oozes out of this movie. It was quite emotional for me watching these actors (though incredibly only a few are professional actors whilst the others are people from the local community) ostensibly play members of my own family and do it so well and with honour and integrity. To all those involved in the making of this wonderful film I thank you sincerely for helping me visualise better the wonderful stories my late mother told me about her childhood growing up in this very mining community. Sadly she passed away before
this film was made but I know she would have loved every minute of it and would most likely have been reduced to tears ( in a good way!!) by it. I would also like to thank all those involved in the making and distribution of this film on her behalf; a true child of the "Happy Lands".
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on 5 November 2013
...and not one thing has changed. I was brought up in the areas depicted by the film (though not in 1926 I hasten to add)the name "The HappyLands" is (was) an area of Lochgelly by the same name.

This is an excellent film made all the more poignant by the passion and dedication shown by all the volunteer actors. All the actors were local people and some were actual miners (Joki Wallace who plays Dan Guthrie was a miner for years). The daughters of former miners who were involved in the Miners strike of 1926 talk about their father's grandfathers experience.

This may have been their first acting role but the film is all the better for it. This is an emotional film but can also be funny at times - the miners' jokes can be funny and cutting. One reviewer said that this is a film they didn't want you to see. This is 100% correct. The "they" in question would be the current government. By Coincidence it was the same government in power then as it is now and the similarities are astounding.

I have saw this film three times now (and will now watch it endlessly) and on one occasion at the Scottish Parliament at their Festival of Politics. To use a cliché if there is only one film you get this year then this is the one to get. Thanks to *all* who were involved in the production of this film. Go Buy it (also it is region free so can be bought and played around the world). The dialect of the film is in broad Fife but there is an option, should you need it, of having it subtitled in English and, strangely, French. Oh and it is a 12 rated film but I have no idea why. It's an accurate account of what happened and yes there is some language in it but that is, as they say, life.
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on 17 November 2013
Most of the actors in 'The Happy Lands' are non-professionals, local people from Fife where the film is set. This adds to the authenticity and immediacy of the film in my opinion. It tells the story of one small mining community during the 1926 General Strike and the long struggle of the miners which followed - their slogan was "not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day." It is effective because it concentrates on a few individuals and families, and we see the events through their eyes. It tells a great human-interest story, with plenty of drama, heartbreak, fear and action - it is not a 'dry' bit of history or a lecture on socialism!
This rarely-discussed period of British history is one that should be remembered, when working people (many of whom had fought for their country in the First World War, like Michael in the film,) found their wages cut, their working conditions worsened and their jobs and homes under threat... and found the courage to organise and fight to defend themselves, their families and their communities. You can view it as a piece of the past if you like, but I believe it has resonance and relevance for people today. I thoroughly recommend this film to anyone who cares about justice, fairness and solidarity.
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on 1 August 2015
Originally from the coalmining area of Fife, this dvd helped me to understand more clearly the reasons my dad used to say that people did not understand fully why Fife in the 1920's was not an easy place to be brought up in. I now understand what my Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts and parents went through, as they lived in Lochgelly and Lumphinnians .I would encourage people from other regions of the UK to watch this DVD with an open mind and they might just come to the conclusion that a lot of things have not changed in general.
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on 5 November 2013
This is a fabulous film that tugs the heartstrings for all the right reasons. Although set in 1926 politically thought-provoking and with relevance and resonance for a modern viewer. Great performances by the main actors. The cinematography is atmospheric and nostalgic -moving from the gritty reality of the miners' work to the domestic and encompassing the strong community spirit of the mining community.
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on 5 November 2013
The Happy Lands will leave you with a heavy heart but one bursting with pride at the spirit shown by a community under attack from uncaring employers. The film features REAL miners and their families from the coalfields of Fife and their efforts have been acclaimed whenever or wherever it has been screened. It is a tremendous landmark in the history of the working class and you will cry, laugh and experience just about every other emotion before the final credits. Congratulations to everyone involved and a sincere thank you.
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on 27 November 2013
Excellent depiction of this very important period for the working miners of Fife. What shines through is the passion and the suffering of all those caught up in the strike . The use of people from that community as actors who hold memories and stories handed down by their parents adds that special atmosphere and authenticity to this production. A must for all those wondering why at times even against the odds people need to take a stand against injustice.
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on 29 August 2013
I have seen The Happy Lands in various locations, including a special screening at the Scottish Parliament, on 3 separate occasions now, and I cannot recommend the film highly enough. The cast, all bar 2 professional actors, is entirely made up of people from the ex-mining communities in Fife, but, with the standard of professionalism shown and the passion they put into their performances, you would never know this. The similarities between 1926 and the austerity measure we all know and loathe today are uncanny; whoever said that history repeats itself is spot on.
Watch this film. You'll laugh, you'll cry, in places you'll be on the edge of your seats, but over and above this you'll see true community in action, people looking after each other, sharing hardships. This film will change your outlook on life.
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on 11 November 2013
Have seen the film 3 times and bought this DVD as a present. The content shows how Miners and their families fought for a better standard of living for their families. This is a very emotional piece of film to view. This epitomises the Class struggle. Glad it has been documented. This film should be used in Schools to show younger Generations of the harshness of life in years gone past.
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on 31 March 2014
A vivi d description of the miners lives,during the strike. As a coal miner ,in my early years I often heard my dad and grandfather talk of the strike, and the 5 Shillings a week that theRussian people gave to the mining families. The older peoples reflection on those times from our mining village was, that they were indeed Happy Times,Very Very Good
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