In 1936 the writer, James Agee, and the photographer, Walker Evans, traveled to Hale County, Alabama, to document the lives of three families of desperately poor cotton farmers. The result of their brilliant work was published in 1941 by the Houghton Miflin Co. as the book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a book destined to become an American classic. Initially fewer than 600 copies of the book were sold. Both critics and readers were baffled by the book's unique form and intensely subjective style. Reissued in 1960, however, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men achieved instant critical acclaim and became one of the most read books of the Civil Rights Movement. For many writers, photographers, artists, and historians, the book became an important inspiration. It has become essential reading in American Studies, American History, and American Literature, as well as ethnography, sociology, and photography. To Render a Life is the first feature film to be made about Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. ...
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and the Documentary Vision