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Bisbee ’17

In 1917, nearly 1200 mostly immigrant miners (and many were neither strikers nor miners) were rounded up at gunpoint in Bisbee, Arizona and were dropped off in the middle of the desert in New Mexico. This documentary is the story, told partly by a narrator and partly through the words of the Bisbee locals, of that event. To commemorate the centennial, the town re-enacted the event; the documentary in effect becomes a “movie within a movie”. I enjoyed the film, mostly because this was a story with which I was not familiar but has such contemporary relevance. The movie represents a very unique approach to how a town tries to deal its own legacy. The best parts of the film were the two cousins who played their fathers, one of whom arrested the other and sent him on the train, and Fernando Serrano, a young man of Mexican descent whose own mother was deported when he was 8 years old and shows up as a haunting presence in several scenes. Thumbs up for a film that, while it doesn’t quite live up to its potential, it is a very unique way to tell a story. It also demonstrates how history is rationalized and what happens when there are few or no survivors to give first-hand accounts of what actually happened in a situation.

About Gary Burkholder

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