Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Dust Bowl

Lured by a renewal of the Homestead Act in the early part of the 20th Century, a migration occurred toward the grasslands of the Great Plains, an area thought to be completely averse to agriculture. As the soil was plowed and masses of wheat crop were planted, though many plentiful years were seen, Mother Nature fought back and unleashed the greatest sustained natural catastrophe the United States has ever known. Over the course of a decade spanning the 1930s and coupled with the affects of the Great Depression, Plains inhabitants--most horridly those centered in the Oklahoma Panhandle--would suffered a barrage of incomparable dust storms and seemingly endless drought, leading to a kind of destitution unthinkable in today's America. Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" is both a heart rending remembrance as told by children of the era and a harrowing cautionary tale. Known primarily for his archival work and the pan and zoom "effect" which bears his name, this film serves as a reminder both of what a great filmmaker--capturing incredible present day shots of the land--and interviewer--eliciting profound and often agonizing stories from his subjects--Burns truly is.