LABOUR: Miners trained for the manual skills of the 20th century come up against 21st-century realities when their pit closes.
Nick Holdsworth
Nick Holdsworth
Our regular critic.
Published date: October 28, 2020

Epochs run on different timelines in different countries and societies. The 20th century shuddered to a halt in the West during the 1980s as deindustrialisation and the first signs of post-industrial automation began to disrupt the lifelines of ordinary people.

In Eastern Europe, where the austere command economies of communism held back the tide of modernisation, jobs long seen as archaic in the UK – mining in particular – held on for another 40 years, into the first two decades of the 21st century.

The men of the Paskov coal mine, in the hardscrabble Czech Silesian town of Ostrava, are a breed fast becoming extinct, and they know it.

A new life

Jindřich Andrš’s film picks up the story where his short film, The Last Shift of Tomáš Hisem left off, and follows the fate of his hero after he finishes his last engineering shift deep underground and surfaces to the bright arc lights of a waiting posse of television reporters and photographers.

As the men of the last shift emerge – some taciturn, others embittered – Tomáš expresses confidence that he can retrain as a computer programmer and embark on a new life.

A New Shift-Jindřich Andrš-post1 A New Shift, a film …

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