Louisiana Story

Louisiana Story (Robert Flaherty, 1948)

I must have seen this when I was quite young. I don’t remember anything about the oil drilling at all—just the boy paddling his canoe, which of course, as a boy growing up on a dry sandplain, I envied.

I suppose Flaherty is important for his attempts to capture a glimpse of ways of life that were disappearing. However, he distorted his ‘documentation’: having Nanook build only half an igloo so that he could film ‘inside’. And he endangered his subjects: having the Aran Islanders row out into a heavy sea to create a genuinely dangerous scene.

This film is even more fictional, presenting a completely sanitised view of oil exploration and exploitation. But it does nevertheless, by using local non-actors, succeed in suggesting (let’s say, rather than showing) something of the way of life of the Cajun people (les Acadiens) of the Louisiana bayoux.

Speaking of which, something like these people have been represented more recently, in Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, 2012) which was nominated for a best film Oscar. But that’s much more fictional, indeed fantastic.

Garry Gillard | New: 26 February, 2017 | Now: 27 March, 2017