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The River
Description: Shows the importance of the Mississippi River to the United States, and how farming and timber practices had caused topsoil to be swept down the river and into the Gulf of Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Clip #: TFA-65A
Length: 31:20
Year: 1937
Color: B/W
Sound: Sound
Library: TFA Network
Decade: 1930s
Filmmaker: Pare Lorentz
Region: North America
Country: United States
Subject: Environment
Original: 16mm
The River 1937 1930s Pare Lorentz Mississippi River water rain waterfall environment erosion depression plow behind mules building dykes levees floods cotton fields steamboat paddlewheeler cotton pickers loading cotton bales onto boat bell ringing flames burning houses ruined during civil war poor people walking behind wagon lumber CU axe cutting tree trees falling logs going down sluices into river piles of logs sawmill saw blades cranes loading coal smokestacks steel mills smelting furnaces molten metal iron train with smoke more cotton bales up conveyor yarn spinning looms freighter ship St Paul Davenport Cincinnati St Louis New Orleans storm clouds over cut forests water flowing flood waters man walking with lantern lightning river rising signs Coast Guard patrols at night sandbags strengthening levees trains pulls into station farms flooded rescue boat refugees homeless families rescue shelters aerial flood damaged city flood aftermath erosion harvesting cotton sharecroppers tenant farmers cutting meat cooking dinner poor children eating dinner cleaning plate poorly dressed poverty tucking child into bed map of US river system Tennessee Valley Authority TVA blasting rock pneumatic drill building Norris Dam locks men walking CU feet working with picks CCC Citizens Conservation Corps bulldozers soil conservation cabin in woods agriculture community homesteaders Farm Security Administration large dam power plant meters large switch water flowing power grids and lines spillways hydroelectric plants global warming

It was written and directed by Pare Lorentz and, like Lorentz's earlier documentary The Plow That Broke the Plains, was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", going into the registry in 1990. Both films have notable scores by Virgil Thomson that are still heard as concert suites. The two films were sponsored by the U.S. government and specifically the Resettlement Administration (RA) to raise awareness about the New Deal. The RA was folded into the Farm Security Administration in 1937, so The River was officially an FSA production.

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