Milano   9/4/2002 - 14/4/2002

Spazio Oberdan - viale Vittorio Veneto, 2

The land

  1. Director: Robert Joseph Flaherty
  2. USA
  3. 45 min.
  4. 1942

In Thirties America, Roosevelt’s New Deal proposed a number of initiatives aiming to overcome the Great Depression and those related to environmental protection, electrification and mechanisation of agriculture were especially important: the Soil Conservation Service was founded in 1934, followed by Resettlement Administration and Rural Electrification Administration in 1935.
The central theme of Flaherty’s works always dealt with the humanity-nature challenge (for instance Man of Aran in 1934) and in The Land, produced from 1939 onwards for the Department of Agriculture, is the story of the decline of terrain due to its constant exploitation, consequent desertification and ensuing unemployment for farm workers who abandon their shacks to seek their fortune elsewhere.
Unlike Vertov Flaherty does not use editing to evoke emotions, but does quite the opposite, lingering over the reading of the images and the composition of the frame, which recall the American landscapes painted at that time by Edward Hopper. The electrification and mechanisation of agriculture was to restore life to abandoned terrains so the moral that Flaherty pronounces in this documentary is as optimistic as that of Vertov.
Nor should it be forgotten that The Land was distributed in the early Forties, when the United States were committed to the war effort and this may justify a certain emphasis in the spoken and musical commentary, not present in the images.