Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Forgotten photography pioneer Lewis Hine, 1874-1940) is the subject of this fascinating documentary on a man who ironically died in poverty after spending his life chronicling its American manifestation. In 1905, Hine began photographing immigrants as they came off Ellis Island, a high-point in his career that continued with views of child labor in the mines and elsewhere (1907-1909), and followed workers at their jobs in mills, factories, slums, tenant farms, and wherever people worked long and hard hours for bare survival. In 1932, Hine finished his photographs on the construction of the Empire State Building, taking great chances to get the best shots. His eventual collection of over 15,000 black-and-white photos slowed down when he went to work for Roosevelt's government in the 1930s and was stymied by red tape and internal disagreements. Hines' oeuvre and life are covered by examples of his photos, historical footage, and interviews with his contemporaries. This is not only a valuable film for its historical record, but is also dramatic, evocative, and never boring.
career, photography, poverty, pioneer, immigration, obsession, visionary