A documentary about the 1930s drought of North American prairie farm land, and its consequences during the great depression.
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1   Unknown  
2012  
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Dorothy Williamson Dorothy Williamson ...  Herself - Resident of Prowers County, CO 4 episodes, 2012
Donald Worster Donald Worster ...  Himself - Historian 4 episodes, 2012
Timothy Egan ...  Himself - Writer 4 episodes, 2012
Calvin Crabill Calvin Crabill ...  Himself - Resident of Prowers County, CO 4 episodes, 2012
Pamela Riney-Kehrberg Pamela Riney-Kehrberg ...  Herself - Historian 4 episodes, 2012
Imogene Glover Imogene Glover ...  Herself - Resident of Texas County, OK 4 episodes, 2012
Wayne Lewis Wayne Lewis ...  Himself - Resident of Beaver County, OK 4 episodes, 2012
Robert McCoy Robert McCoy ...  Himself - Resident of Texas County, OK 4 episodes, 2012
Charles Shaw Charles Shaw ...  Himself - Resident of Cimarron County, OK 4 episodes, 2012
R. Douglas Hurt R. Douglas Hurt ...  Himself - Historian 4 episodes, 2012
Pauline Hodges Pauline Hodges ...  Herself - Resident of Beaver County, OK 4 episodes, 2012
Clarence Beck Clarence Beck ...  Himself - Residen of Cimarron County, OK / ... 4 episodes, 2012
William Forester William Forester ...  Himself - Son of Harry Forester 4 episodes, 2012
Dorothy Kleffman Dorothy Kleffman ...  Herself - Resident of Texas County, OK 4 episodes, 2012
Pauline Durrett Robertson Pauline Durrett Robertson ...  Herself - Resident of Potter County, TX 4 episodes, 2012
Trixie Travis Brown Trixie Travis Brown ...  Herself - Lipscomb County, TX / ... 4 episodes, 2012
Robert Forester Robert Forester ...  Himself - Son of Harry Forester 4 episodes, 2012
Shirley Forester McKenzie Shirley Forester McKenzie ...  Herself - Resident of Texas County, OK / ... 4 episodes, 2012
Lorene White Lorene White ...  Herself - Resident of Stanton County, KS 4 episodes, 2012
Sam Arguello Sam Arguello ...  Himself - Resident of Union County, NM 4 episodes, 2012
Carolyn McCormick ...  Caroline Henderson 4 episodes, 2012
Peter Coyote ...  Himself - Narrator 4 episodes, 2012
Don Wells Don Wells ...  Himself - Resident of Cimarron County, OK 4 episodes, 2012
Floyd Coen Floyd Coen ...  Himself - Resident of Morton County, KS 4 episodes, 2012
Pauline Robertson Pauline Robertson ...  Herself - Resident of Union County, NM 4 episodes, 2012
Kristy Patterson Kristy Patterson ...  Thanks 4 episodes, 2012
Dale Coen Dale Coen ...  Himself - Resident of Morton County, KS 3 episodes, 2012
Irene Beck Hauer Irene Beck Hauer ...  Herself - Resident of Cimarron County, CO 3 episodes, 2012
Louise Forester Briggs Louise Forester Briggs ...  Herself - Resident of Texas County, OK 3 episodes, 2012
Ina K. Labrier Ina K. Labrier ...  Herself - Resident of Prowers County, CO 3 episodes, 2012
Millard Fowler Millard Fowler ...  Himself - Resident of Cimarron County, OK 3 episodes, 2012
Amy Madigan ...  Sanora Babb 3 episodes, 2012
Patricia Clarkson ...  Hazel Lucas Shaw 3 episodes, 2012
Kevin Conway Kevin Conway ...  Ernie Pyle 3 episodes, 2012
Virginia Frantz Virginia Frantz ...  Herself - Resident of Beaver County, OK 2 episodes, 2012
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Storyline

A documentary about the 1930s drought of North American prairie farm land, and its consequences during the great depression.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 November 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dust Bowl See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films, WETA See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Extracts from the interviews in this documentary were used by Christopher Nolan in Interstellar when depicting the dust storms on Earth. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

When Tomorrow Comes
Written by Dayton Duncan
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User Reviews

 
Bad politics caused it, good politics fixed it. Period.
3 January 2013 | by dimpletSee all my reviews

All Americans have heard of the Dust Bowl and know it was a phenomenon associated with drought in the 1930s, and that Okies left for California, a la The Grapes of Wrath. We have also heard about the more recent droughts in the West. So the thought arises, could it happen again? But that's about it. Most non-Americans don't even know that.

With some of his documentaries on more distant subjects, Ken Burns relied on old photographs and narratives read by actors. But The Dust Bowl is the story told by the people who saw the massive dust storms, day after day, with their own eyes, breathing the dust, eating the dust, getting lost in the dust. They are often the very people in the pictures used. At at the end, we see a dedication listing the participants who had died before the documentary was released. Burns was just in time to save this bit of oral history.

What struck me initially was how objective, unemotional, and even dry was his approach, far less spirited than subjects like the Statue of Liberty, Baseball or Jazz. And the pace is leisurely, a lot of time spent looking at a lot of towering dust clouds and hearing account after account of being engulfed by dust and sand. Most film makers would have sped things up for the MTV generation, perhaps added booming sound effects and gimmicky zips and flashes to keep our attention. But this is Ken Burns, and he has the street cred to do things his way. And it was the right way. People actually lived through these dust and sand storms for years, so surely we can endure the accounts for a few hours to get a feel for it.

But this tells a larger story, of how the region was settled, telling another side of the Oklahoma land rush that I had never heard, and how government policies and World War I led to foolish overproduction of wheat on land better suited to grazing. Yes, foolish. The people involved say so, themselves, for the most part. This is not Ken Burns political propagandist, as some reviewers allege.

What struck me is how objective this account is, how balanced, presenting various sides, and grounded in fact, like good journalism. The film covers the New Deal policies of FDR to try to save the land and help those living in the Dust Bowl; it also provides insight into the origins of farm price support policies. Is this what causes some viewers to froth at the mouth? I kept waiting for the judgment, the observation that global warming could cause more dust bowls, in America, and around the world. But it never came. Perhaps he could anticipate the response. Frankly, he didn't need to spell out the connection.

With better, scientific farming practices, the Dust Bowl land could be saved, more or less. You still need rainfall, unless you are willing to drain aquifers. But the story of the Dust Bowl also offers some promise that there may be intelligent ways to adjust to the effects of climate change on agriculture. Discussion of this is the part that I wish was included.

This is a vitally important story that needs to be remembered, with lessons for our and future generations. It is also a story of the human spirit, of people who endured hardship far longer than any of us should, or probably could, bear. I am glad they got a chance to share their story with us.

-- Footnote:

A good supplementary program is The Civilian Conservation Corps episode of The American Experience, #22.1, for a larger context on the environmental and economic situation.


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