Louisiana Story (1948)



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Documentary film pioneer Robert Flaherty's last feature is his most beautifully photographed work, but it also proved to be his most controversial as well. Sponsored by Standard Oil, the film can be seen as a paean to the minimal effect an oil company can have on the wilderness it seeks to exploit. Flaherty also picked a cast of amateur players to act out a simple story of a young Cajun boy (Joseph Boudreaux) and his parents living in Louisiana's magnificent bayou country almost side-by-side with a huge oil derrick, so the film's status as a nonfiction film has been challenged. The boy is at first disturbed by the clanging machinery, but the workers at the derrick soon show him the benefits of their labors and promise to leave the land unscathed when they've finished drilling. Aside from the arguable message the film's sponsor promotes, Flaherty's film is a continuation of his lifelong exploration of man's relationship to his natural environment, in such films as Nanook of the North and Man of Aran.

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Lionel LeBlanc
as The Father
Lionel Le Blanc
as His Father
E. Bienvenu
as The Mother
Mrs. E. Bienvenu
as His Mother
Frank Hardy
as The Driller
C.P. Guedry
as The Boilerman
C.T. Guedry
as His Boilerman
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Critic Reviews for Louisiana Story

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (4)

A powerful, swooning visualization of a wilderness childhood.

Jan 25, 2016 | Full Review…

It has a slender, appealing story, moments of agonizing suspense, vivid atmosphere and superlative photography.

Feb 26, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Flaherty's narrative may seem slightly naive; but his vision of a child's myth-world, and the oilmen's intrusion and acceptance into it, is perhaps his greatest achievement.

Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

The ring of sincerity is clear in Flaherty's film.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It's a solid but tedious industrial film showing the risks and rewards of getting oil out of the ground.

Jun 9, 2010 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

As adept as it is in photographing nature, Louisiana Story is weak in capturing culture.

Feb 26, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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