Pare Lorentz

Active - 1914 - 1948  |   Born - Dec 11, 1905   |   Died - Mar 5, 1992   |   Genres - Historical Film, Nature, Drama

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Biography by AllMovie

Director Pare Lorentz has made several important contributions to American cinema. Both The Plow That Broke the Plains and The River made in support of Roosevelt's New Deal are considered seminal works in the development of the American documentary and earned Lorentz international acclaim. After first working as a journalist and a film critic, Lorentz became a director in the 1930s and was appointed as film advisor to the U.S. Resettlement Administration. It was during his tenure in this position that he made the two highly praised films. The Plow That Broke the Plains was a poetic chronicle of the Roosevelt Administration's efforts to help drought-devastated Oklahoma farmers, while The River provided a lyrical history of the Mississippi Basin that emphasized the ruin caused by soil erosion. Though both films received the highest praise, some in the film industry protested them because they had received government sponsorship. In 1939, Lorentz wrote the narration and treatment for The City, another landmark documentary. That year, Lorentz founded and began running the U.S. Film Service. While in that capacity, he made another great documentary, The Fight for Life, a devastating look at infant mortality among the impoverished. After making a few more well-received documentaries, Congress denied the Film Service funds and it fell apart. In 1941, Lorentz produced a few short, undistinguished films for RKO. During the war, Lorentz turned to making training films for the military. He also was in charge of supervising film, music, and theater arts re-education programs in occupied countries following the war. Following service in two more government agencies, Lorentz went to New York and began producing commercial and industrial films dividing his time between that and college lecture tours during which he would talk about making documentaries.

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