The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Ant-Man and the Wasp
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All Critics (4)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (4)
| Rotten (0)
The filmmakers, John Hanson and Rob Nilsson, use the documentary springboard of Martinson's memories to move into a film that also looks like a documentary.
John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath seems like the obvious inspiration here, in both its proletarian sentiment and its primal arrangement of characters against the harsh landscape.
The pseudo-documentary tone is maddeningly naive, but the stubborn, passionate images survive
In the winter of 1915 in North Dakota, Ray Sorensen(Robert Behling) gets engaged to Inga(Susan Lynch). But as John(Joe Spano) puts it, there are more important things to worry about like the low prices and high shipping costs of their grain, along with the banks always threatening to foreclose on their family farms. That's why the Nonpartisan League has been formed, to give the power to the farmers to let them govern themselves. Even after all that, Ray has reservations about hitting the trail for them which are eventually overcome.
"Northern Lights" is an endearing and inspiring forgotten piece of American history; one that also goes to show that there is nothing fundamentally un-American about socialism. The black and white cinematography covers the sparse landscape well which matches the minimal dialogue. So, while we are informed as to what happens historically, the same could not be said for the chracters which is not an insignificant fault. In any case, there is Henry Martinson who appears in the prologue and epilogue and was there when these events were going down and at the time of filming, 94 years old and still kicking and doing push-ups.
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