Louisiana Story (1948)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Louisiana Story Photos

Movie Info

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.
Classics , Documentary , Drama , Special Interest
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Lionel Le Blanc
as His Father
Lionel LeBlanc
as The 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
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Louisiana Story

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (4)

A powerful, swooning visualization of a wilderness childhood.

Full Review… | January 24, 2016
New Yorker
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | February 26, 2008
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.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 9, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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

Full Review… | February 26, 2008
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for Louisiana Story

It's a little hard to judge because I (legally) downloaded a copy from, I think, the National Film Archive site? Eh, some site that has all sorts of public domain stuff available. My point is the quality of the file was rather poor, but from what I could see and hear, it was amateur actors extolling drilling for oil. Not bad, but kind of weird.

Andy Cramer
Andy Cramer

well, the photography is nice. the story is agonizingly thin and really drags. the characters are bland and the performances are dry and passionless--the most spirited character is probably the raccoon. the dialogue is scant, and a good portion of it is in unsubtitled French. if Standard Oil wanted to promote an environmentally-friendly image of themselves, they didn't need this 78-minute yawn-fest to do it. decent score, decent photography, but overall a dull, pointless film.

Brian Schnell
Brian Schnell

Strikes an odd balance of moods. Whether focusing on the untamed wild of the bayou or the complicated workings of the rig, the tone is simultaneously wondrous and dangerous. The balance is felt in the ebb and flow of tension in the narrative, the music, and the luminous cinematography. Even the way the actors are constantly smiling no matter what the circumstances adds to the unsettling-yet-bubbly atmosphere. The story itself is a bit thin and unsatisfying, however.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

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