Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The River was documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz's masterful follow-up to his 1936 classic The Plow That Broke the Plains. Produced on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority, The River details the history of the flood-prone Mississippi basin from prehistoric times to the Depression era. Special attention is given the efforts by the TVA to control floods and conserve soil in the area. Many of the beautifully composed shots in The River--notably the distance shots of a huge dam under construction--have become de rigeur filmclips in subsequent film and TV documentaries of the 1930s. The visual poetry inherent in Lorentz's images are complemented by his free-verse narration. For a more prosaic treatment of the same era and events, see Elia Kazan's 1960 recreation of the TVA's 1930s activities, Wild River.
High Historical Importance