Robert Greene’s unconventional documentary is a lyrical, haunting probe into the way history intertwines with the present.
The Bisbee ‘17 score sounds ripped from a ghost movie, spiky and glassy and a little dissonant. That sort of music (composed here by Keegan DeWitt) feels unusual for a documentary, but Bisbee ‘17 is no ordinary documentary, and the eerie, jagged notes underline that fact.
Directed by unconventional documentarian Robert Greene, Bisbee ’17 is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. It’s also an unsettling cipher for America, in a year when the ghosts of our past revealed themselves in frightening ways.
Bisbee ’17 takes place during the centennial of a shocking, and mostly forgotten, historical event
Bisbee, Arizona, is situated 7 miles north of the Mexican border. Today it’s the home of mostly progressive-leaning artisans and eccentric old-timers, surrounded by shuttered copper mines that once made the town the richest in the state.
The town’s copper was in particularly high demand during World War I, which helps set up Bisbee’s strangely open secret. On July 12, 1917, 1,200 miners — the vast majority of whom were migrant workers from Mexico and Eastern Europe — and their supporters were rounded up at gunpoint and forced out of the town by a deputized posse of about 2,000 Bisbee citizens. Their crime? Striking against Phelps Dodge, the company that owned the mines, demanding fairer labor practices.
Phelps Dodge organized the roundup (or, more accurately, the illegal kidnapping); the miners were transported about 200 miles into New Mexico in cattle cars, unloaded without provisions, and warned against returning to Bisbee. Families and friendships were broken, but the company got its way, and Bisbee retained its identity as a mining town — at least until copper Read More Here