Let’s clear up the obvious miscommunication right off the bat; just because Louisiana Story is directed by Robert J. Flaherty, of Nanook of the North fame, does not mean it is a documentary. Rather, it is a docufiction; a fictional account of the ways of real life in, in this case, the bayous of Louisiana. Not only that, Flaherty was able to make the film thanks to a large grant from one of the biggest oil companies of the time, and thus not only is the film about oil drilling, the fact that it is essentially a propaganda piece cannot be ignored, regardless of how it may color your watching of this film. And that’s even if you do decide to watch this; if you don’t want to, I would not blame you in the slightest.
As I said in the opener, the film is a docufiction, which means that, while fictional, it essentially follows the life of its main character, credited in the opening titles only as “the boy”, as he lives in the Louisiana bayou, and also when he discovers an oil derrick nearby and first sees the influence of industrialization on his way of life. Frankly, there’s really not a whole lot to this one, and certainly nothing that isn’t offered in other films on the list. Being from the mind of a documentarian, the film revels in the exotic images of its locations; often, nothing really happens in the film, and we are left to simply enjoy the scenery, which while admirable enough in its own right, doesn’t solely a must see film make (at least in my eyes). It reminded me a little bit of Tabu, in that both films are simplistic stories that are set in exotic and multifaceted locations to make up for the fact that the film couldn’t stand on the weight of its own plot alone; funny, considering Flaherty was supposed to co-direct that film, and still shares credit for the story. The only other aspect of note is the score, which was fairly good, all things considered, but would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize; the first time this honor would go to a film score. Not sure if it was really good enough to deserve it, but it’s worth mentioning.
Frankly, I didn’t know why this was so important or renowned that I had to see it before I died. The reality was; I spent pretty much the whole film noting to myself how unremarkable the whole thing was. The only aside was the good use of locations, but that alone does not even make a good film, in this case. Add to it that the quality of the print I watched was absolutely piddling, and I could barely even appreciate the location shooting; the one thing this film does have going for it. I admit, I wasn’t expecting much with this, but even still, I ended up disappointed. All signs point to this film not even being able to see the light of day without the oil company funding behind it, and if you ask me, that might’ve been better off for everyone involved.
Arbitrary Rating: 5/10