Mary Tutwiler

Through the lens of "Louisiana Story," on LPB tonight

by Mary Tutwiler

Filmmaker Robert Flaherty’s award winning "Louisiana Story" will be revisited tonight, in an Louisiana Public Broadcasting documentary titled “Louisiana Story: The Reverse Angle.” Directed, produced and edited by LPB’s Tika Laudun and narrated by fiddler Michael Doucet, the documentary brings together the film’s child star, J.C. Boudreaux , cinematographer Richard Leacock and production assistant Clarence Faulk to talk about the controversial film.

Commissioned by the Standard Oil Company in the 1940s, Flaherty set out to make a film reconciling industrialization with a pristine environment. A Cajun family, living an Edenic existence in the marshes of southwest Louisiana find their lives invaded by a drilling rig, which ultimately brings modernity, prosperity and knowledge of the outside world into their innocent existence. Flaherty, living in Abbeville with his crew during the filming, transcended what was conceived as a piece of propaganda for the oil company, creating a work of great lyrical beauty.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story in 1948. Louisiana Story won the Venice Film Festival’s International Prize, and in 1949, Virgil Thomson won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his score to the film. Doucet, who, with Fiddlers Four, has performed the score in concert, says Thomson collaborated with folklorist ,Therese Whitfield, who documented Cajun and Creole music in the 1930s and 40s, to create a score using authentic folk music themes. Darol Anger, one of the members of Fiddlers Four, composed and performed the original music for Louisiana Story: The Reverse Angle.

Louisiana Story: The Reverse Angle, airs at 7 p.m. tonight on LPB,  followed by a broadcast of Louisiana Story at 7:40 p.m.