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To Render a Life (1992)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 18 November 1992 (USA)
A portrait of a contemporary, poor, rural family living under the same conditions as the cotton sharecroppers of the Depression.


Ross Spears
1 win. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Robert Coles ... Self
Anita Glass Anita Glass ... Self
Obea Glass ... Self
Howell Raines ... Self
Frederick Wiseman ... Self
Jonathan Yardley Jonathan Yardley ... Self


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. ... Written by Ross Spears

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Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and the Documentary Vision




Not Rated

User Reviews

14 April 2005 | by HHIChicaSee all my reviews

This is an incredible documentary! It is not just for Agee fans, but for anyone...I have seen it twice now and intend on seeing it many more times. I hope other people comment as I would love to know what others think. I just met Ross Spears last night...what a genius! This film is one of the most moving, brilliant, and beautifully filmed documentaries I have ever seen. Spears manages to make an amazing documentary, all while keeping the integrity of the family he is filming. This film proves that you absolutely do not need to have money to have happiness, and that true love is a beautiful thing. Spears could not have picked a more perfect family for this project.

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Official Sites:

Agee Films





Release Date:

18 November 1992 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Virginia, USA

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