Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Triangle: Remembering the Fire

posted by Nell Minow

One hundred years ago this week, 146 people were killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a tragedy compounded because it was the result of preventable neglect and safety violations. An excellent new documentary, Triangle: Remembering the Fire, is showing this month on HBO. The film includes interviews with family members of those who were injured or killed in what was the deadliest industrial tragedy in New York history as well as the descendants of the factory owners, who were there with their children the day of the fire but were able to escape. Some members of their extended family were also working there and were killed. Most of the people who died were immigrant women who were trapped when the fire started, in some cases because the doors were locked to keep them inside. Many were killed not by the fire but by leaping out of the windows in a desperate attempt to escape after the flimsy fire escape collapsed. Six of the victims were not identified until February of this year, 100 years later.


The film documents not just the terrible events of March 25, 1911 but also the reform efforts they inspired. The company’s managers failed to make even the most rudimentary efforts at safety for the workers. While those injured and the families of those killed were not entitled to any benefits, the managers were reimbursed by insurance and were not responsible for any fines or compensation for the losses. This led to the first recognition that the industrial era required the involvement of organized labor and government to ensure that basic protections were in place, a crucial turning point in the history of public policy and politics. The film was inspired when a previous film from the same producers about the garment industry began with a short mention of the Triangle factory fire and ended with a similar recent story about a fire at a factory in Bangladesh. Its lessons are as important today as they were a century ago.


Triangle: Remembering the FireTriangle: Remembering the Fire TV Schedule

For more information, see: The lesson guide for teachers and students on the HBO website, American Experience: Triangle Fire, Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, and The Triangle Fire: A Brief History with Documents

  • Pingback: World Spinner

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Tim1974

    It is certainly sad to realize that it took such a tragedy and loss of life for society to recognize that changes in the industrial north needed to be made. Just as appalling is the fact that those responsible for such a disaster did not feel it necessary to help out the families who had survivors or change any industry policies until being forced to. This leads to the question of whether society has learned from the past or does it continue to overlook or ignore issues that need attention today.

    • Nell Minow

      That is the question, Tim, which is why I am so glad this film is showing on HBO — and that CNN broadcast it yesterday as well.

Previous Posts

Happy Thanksgiving! Alice's Restaurant
Arlo Guthrie's classic song, "Alice's Restaurant," is based on the true story of his arrest for, well, garbage. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"] ...

posted 3:45:01pm Nov. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Miracles From Heaven
[youtube][/youtube] Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah star in "Miracles from Heaven," based on Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl and Her Amazing Story of Healing by Christy Wilson Beam. ...

posted 8:00:03am Nov. 26, 2015 | read full post »

"Brooklyn," based on the book by Colm Tóibín, is exquisitely lyrical, the story of a young woman who immigrates from Ireland to New ...

posted 5:22:49pm Nov. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Pixar's New Short is Really Special: Sanjay's Super Team
The best part of "The Good Dinosaur" is the short film that comes before, "Sanjay's Super Team." The Pixar short films are gems but this one is really special. It is the first to feature non-white characters, the first to be based on the life ...

posted 2:30:49pm Nov. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Movie Addict Headquarters: Holiday Season Movie Releases 2015
Thanks as always to Betty Jo Tucker for inviting me on the Movie Addict Headquarters podcast to talk about what we're looking forward to in theatrical releases and DVDs through the end of this year. [iframe width="400" height="370" ...

posted 8:28:26am Nov. 25, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.