USA, 1948 (MIFF 1952, Flaherty Tribute)

Director: Robert J. Flaherty

This was Robert Faherty's last major film before his death on July 23, 1951, at the age of 67. It wa a worthy successor to his other great films Nanook of the North, Moana, and Man of Aran.

Flaherty was an innovator, and had a great influence on the development of the film. Nanook was a unique experiment - the prototype of the documentary. Here he worked alone living with the Eskimos; in all his later work he used the minimum of equpment and the smallest group of collaborators required by the medium.

Louisiana Story on the surface is a big, old-time Flaherty epic, the life of a small boy in the Louisiana swamps, complete with alligators, fishing, hunting, a pet raccoon, and an oil-well explosion. But this small boy differs from his predecessors in Flaherty films.

To his primitive swamps comes an oil-drilling outfit, which proceeds to discover and drill in a well from beneath the waters of the bayou. The somplicated modern marvel of testing, sounding, and drilling for oil is seen through the wonderfing eyes of a boy.

There must have been thousands of educational films produced during the last fifty years which tried to present the wonders of industry through the eyes of a child. The wonders of industry as they portrayed them remained more incomprehensible than wonderful, and the children were those familiar text-book ones known as John and Mary Smith.

Here the boy is an palpably real as the swamps he lives in, and the process of oil drilling is observed and described with a clarity and drama unmatched in films. This is a real educational film; it is also a poem, and two things work together.

To the boy, and to us, everything is enchantment. Louisiana Story is the record of this infatuation, of the wild landscape of a trapper's childhood, of the boy himself and his father and their cabin at the water's edge.

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