6.3/10
570
9 user 1 critic

The River (1938)

This documentary short film looks at the devastating and costly problems, including seasonal flooding and erosion of precious topsoil, associated with the Mississippi River system and promotes more Federal projects to remedy the situation.

Director:

Pare Lorentz

Writer:

Pare Lorentz
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Thomas Chalmers Thomas Chalmers ... Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

This short Depression-era documentary describes the importance of the Mississippi River to the United States. It laments the environmental destruction committed in the name of progress, particularly farming and timber practices which cause massive erosion and result in vast amounts of top soil being washed down the river into the Gulf of Mexico. The film focuses especially on the impact this has had on impoverished farmers. It ends on a very upbeat note, however, with a celebration of the TVA, "modern" farming technology, and the use of dams to control the river and prevent flooding. Written by George Schneiderman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Beautiful! Stirring! Dramatic!


Certificate:

Unrated
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the success of this film, President Roosevelt asked Pare Lorentz to help establish the United States Film Service. That agency would produce three films: The Fight for Life (1940), Power and the Land (1940), and The Land (1942), before the unit was disbanded by Congress in 1941. He would also shoot footage of the Nuremberg Trials that was incorporated into Nuremberg: The 60th Anniversary Director's Cut (2007). See more »

Connections

References Show Boat (1929) See more »

Soundtracks

She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain When She Comes
Traditional
Played as part of the score during the lumber scenes
See more »

User Reviews

 
A moving film with terrific music
27 September 2006 | by davidross2243See all my reviews

I first saw this as a 16 mm film projection in 1961, and have been looking for a copy off and on since then. Finally found one on eBay as a DVD labeled The History of the Mississippi River. While ultimately plugging the achievements of the TVA and FDR's New Deal, the film movingly portrays both the muscle of American industry and agriculture, and its folly and wastefulness and the effects on both the land and its people.

Probably the best part of the film, and certainly crucial to its message, is the music of Virgil Thomson, who interwove melodies from popular and gospel hymns with his own original creation to enhance and define the mood of this documentary. The music, along with his music for the companion film The Plow that Broke the Plains, is available on CD.

With a running time of 30 minutes, this is a gem of a documentary, and one that has had a life-long effect on me personally, in terms of my career, politics, and environmental sensibility.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 February 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The River See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$50,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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