American Dream (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

American Dream (1992)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Depicting the effects of a mid-1980s strike by the employees of a Hormel meat-packing plant in Austin, Minnesota, Barbara Kopple's Academy Award-winning documentary American Dream observes both the daily struggles of the striking workers and the behind-the-scenes conflicts amongst the union leaders. Upset at a proposed pay cut, the local union chapter begins the strike against the advice of their parent organization, hiring an outside consultant who encourages the workers. This consultant's aggressive, no-compromise approach turns the conflict into national news but also alienates management. Soon, despite the efforts of a seasoned negotiator sent by the parent union, the company has locked out the workers and hired scabs, leading to a series of violent conflicts amongst members of the community. The workers' resolve progressively fades as the battle extends into months and years, and the financial hardships they and their families suffer leads some to doubt the value of their efforts. Kopple, who had previously covered an extended miner's strike in the acclaimed 1977 documentary Harlan County, USA, focuses on the personalities and emotions behind the strike, creating a highly charged portrait of labor that is sympathetic to the workers' distress without ignoring the strike's greater ambiguities.


Critic Reviews for American Dream

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (5)

Its focus on the smoldering economic fury of working-class Americans adroitly illuminates the reasons for the backlash that politicians of both parties are finding increasingly difficult to ignore.

August 13, 2018 | Full Review…

Ms. Kopple's stirring, forthright film captures an American town, the strength of its traditions and the deep and permanent ways in which those traditions can be destroyed. Her work is as important as it is good.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Stories like the Hormel strike are too long and complicated to be told on a daily basis. Only a documentary like this has a canvas big enough for the whole picture.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

It's one of those rare journalistic documents that by detailing the tragic particulars of an individual struggle manage to define the whole war.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

A bracing hybrid, a documentary and a lamentation for those who create the country's wealth at the cost of their own dignity.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

[An] ambitious, socially concerned documentary...

August 13, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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