In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

North Country

Tonight I watched the film North Country. I've been excited to see this movie for quite a while now. It takes place in northern Minnesota, near where I grew up. I had no idea how angry I would get. Angry at this horrible situation for the women who had to work in the mines. Angry that this still happens as late as 1989, when the film was set, or 1998, when the "real" lawsuit was settled. Angry at myself for not realizing this was going on while I was in high school and college.

I started off watching the movie for signs of places that I knew. Have you done that? It's where you watch a movie that was filmed in an area you know, and you feel compelled to figure out the exact spot where they are. When you do know a landmark, you have to point it out to the others watching it with you. I could really only do it once. I only identified the restaurant where they ate dinner (the Village Inn, in Virginia, MN). I couldn't even identify the high school, but I'm sure I was there.

Eventually, though, I got wrapped up in the story. It's amazing how slow we are to support, or even believe, one of our own who is hurt. My other half tried to make it political, blaming it all on the Republicans. As much as I would like to agree with his sentiment, I know this problem crosses political boundaries.

I'm going to be thinking through this for some time now. I'm very glad that they decided to do this film. It's not a glamorous movie, although you will get hints of Erin Brockovich while watching it. I recommend it. Go see it.


Blogger bjm said...

Hey Ross,
We saw North Country when it first came out. Pretty powerful! It does give you a really sick feeling to realize that those kinds of things were happening and nobody was doing anything about it. Two messages of hope that I came away from the movie with were: First, a lot of the men that were harassing the women were doing it because they thought it was 'funny' and they thought that everyone agreed it was 'funny'. I don't think they realized until someone stood up to them how unfunny and hurtful it really was. Second, during the trial, when people started standing up to support her claim--a lot of them were men--some who even felt that women shouldn't be working in the mines--but they knew the way the women were being treated was definitely wrong. I think that shows that maybe it was a small number of men who were doing the majority of the harassing.

BUT, this leads to another thought…if we aren’t actively involved in a wrong, but are a bystander who doesn’t stand up for what’s right, and may even laugh when someone is made the brunt of jokes--what does that say about us? How can we, not only do the right thing, but also stand up against people doing wrong?

I remember when all the Sexual Harassment training came on campus and we even needed a ‘Sexual Harassment Officer’. I never realized that it came as a direct result of this lawsuit that was happening so close to home. We thought all the training and mandates were stupid and unnecessary. I guess we need to look beyond our own little world to see the impact of mandates for the greater good.

Have a great day--Love mom

7:29 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

It seems that perhaps this weekend was all about watching wrenching movies. Your post reminded me of "Hotel Rwanda" because all through that, I kept thinking, we who are privileged to live in a place of relative safety are awful to not step in and help others who are so desperately in need of intervention. But, Hotel Rwanda and "North Country" sound quite different too. I just thought I'd post about how movies can really get us thinking. :) Have a good one.

10:45 PM  
Blogger HereISit said...

I've lived 30 years in the area of this movie, and yes, the incidents were not public knowledge. I read that the local newspaper published news of the outcome of the lawsuit on a minor inside page even though it was a groundbreaking lawsuit.

I wish that the movie was more representative of the beauty of the area, not just the mines and the mining scenery. There are GOOD reasons to live in this area besides jobs. This area is know for lakes, woods, beauty and good schools, and for really good people, despite the tone of the movie.

The scenes in the mining buildings were filmed in another state, possibly NM, which gave a bigger subsidy to the film company.

My daughter and lots of school kids went to the hockey arena for a whole day to be extras during the filming of the hockey scenes. That was a boring day for them and we hardly see anyone's face in the crowd scenes.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Ross said...

Yeah, it was certainly filmed during one of the uglier parts of the year. No lakes, no leaves on trees. It is a beautiful area, and people should realize it. I'm still struck with how little I knew about this, even while I was living in the area.

Scripted hockey games must not be that exciting to watch, huh?

9:13 AM  

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