another film from robert flaherty (nanook of the north and man of aran). the other two films i’ve seen from him are documentaries, whereas this one is pretty much a straight film (though it won and academy for best documentary). an argument could be made for man of aran as a documentary, but i don’t think that this one qualifies. i think that flaherty works better within the documentary confines. perhaps this is because he needn’t worry about developing a story or script – that comes naturally given the genre – and so he can focus more on the editing process and capturing the humanity of the characters. it’s also possible that his venture into feature films came after he reached his peak. nanook of the north and man of aran had the similar theme of man’s struggle to survive within nature. while they followed rather simple people using simple tools (harpoons and fish hooks mostly) this film introduces industry as man’s tool in conquering nature. i must admit that this turned me off of the film a bit; it just didn’t seem as pure. it’s a beautiful film – the black and white photography really looks good (it was restored by the ucla film archive) and the shots are well composed. the story is told through the eyes of a young boy who wanders around the louisiana swamps on his canoe. he comes to admire the crew of the oil rig that has come to his part of the swamp to drill for oil as part of a deal his father has made with a business partner. the oil people’s presence is given much more of a positive portrayal than i would have expected from flaherty. as i perused some of the dvd extras i discovered why this is…it turns out that standard oil commissioned the production and requested a film that showed the beauty of humanity and positive impact oil can have while being entertaining all the while. it’s flaherty’s best looking film and, again, the score is a highlight, but i think it’s kind of a shame this had to be his final picture.