We all know how the Tennesse Valley Authority brought all-important electricity to rural America. This documentary shows a project in the same vein from the Rural Electrication Administration of USDA.
It's available on the excellent Depression era DVD that showcases King Vidor's classic movie OUR DAILY BREAD. Unfortunately for POWER, it is vastly overshadowed in this package by Pare Lorentz's brilliant docs THE RIVER and THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS.
Director Joris Ivens focuses on an Ohio farm family who are frankly thrilled to get the electricity that townsfolk have taken for granted. The importance of state intervention is boldly emphasized here (as in the TVA), which despite the lame daily diatribes one can hear on C-SPAN by various Republican reactionaries, the government does serve a very useful and necessary function in doing things that wonderful (and greedy) old private sector won't touch. In this case providing electricity to remote farms, not as lucrative to private power companies as us huddled-together urban masses.
Benefiting from effective photography by two masters known from countless fiction features (Floyd Crosby and Arthur J. Ornitz), film is a workmanlike exercise that gets its point across. Despite some florid voice-over provided by no less than Stephen Vincent Benét, it doesn't rise to the poetic level of Lorenz's imagery and of course lacks the legendary Virgil Thomson musical scores.
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