Please note: This posting was published September 25, 2009 and edited/updated March 16, 2022.

Gabriel Byrne narrates this new documentary about a small mining town in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and the miners, many of them immigrants from Ireland and England, who helped put it on the map.

From the Montana PBS page for the film:

In this copper-mining metropolis, the Industrial Revolution collided with the romance of the frontier, corporate capitalism battled organized labor and the country’s ever-increasing appetite for metals laid waste to land and water, yielding vast fortunes for the copper barons and a tragic environmental and economic legacy for the people of Butte.

Official Poster

As the title suggests, the Butte story is inseparable from the story of America. The town contributed mightily to the industrialization of the country during the 20th century, helping build the world all Americans live in today. Besides the constant dangers underground, the people of Butte weathered a massive fire, strikes, mine shutdowns, health and environmental problems and finally, the bulldozing of long-established neighborhoods to make way for open pit mining. “When they killed the houses,” one character recalls, “they killed the people.” As other once-great American cities see jobs and industry disappear—and with it, established communities that generations have called home—BUTTE, AMERICA’s relevance extends far beyond the towering mountains of western Montana.

The film originally aired Sunday, November 29, 2009, on PBS, and then later as part of the documentary line-up at Independent Lens.

You could purchase a DVD for home viewing at one point, but it is hard to track down now. The only version currently available seems to be from Berkeley Media.

Butte, America DVD Cover

Be sure to visit the official website! You will find behind the scenes videos, information about the filmmakers and the production team, educational resources, and more.

Original image, 2009


  1. I attended the screening. It’s a very interesting and often very moving film. A lot of the narration is done by the people of Butte who are featured in the film, the rest is GB.

    The director, Pamela Roberts, said that she had written to GB’s Dublin office and asked him if he was interested in participating. He called her back and said yes. Apparently, he had an uncle who had told him stories about Butte.

    According to the director, the film will be on PBS this October, and the DVD can be ordered from the website.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Will the movie be available on DVD? Hope so. It is also interesting to read on the homepage for Butte, America that Gabriel Byrne is “currently writing several scripts”.
    Do somebody know what he is writing about?

  3. Sorry, for my question about the DVD.
    I can see that it is mentioned by Lily that it can be ordered from the website. That is great.

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