The Plow that Broke the Plains was Re: Environmentalism and theAmerican Socialist

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at
Sun May 7 21:00:14 MDT 2000

>Very interesting post Lou.  Pare Lorentz' film of 1937 (?) The Plow that
>broke the Plains is interesting from an early conservation point of
>view.  Lorentz was a FDR man and anxious to preach the adminstration's
>message - "Plow at your Peril!". This was really a response to over
>production in the agricultural sector but there was an ecological
>substratum that was provided byu the analysis of the USA as a 'dry
>continent.'  Lorentz got this from some university Professor whose name
>escapes me now.

But the film still travels well with students here in Australia because
Australia too is a dry continent and the pastoralists here, as in the USA,
have done massive ecological damage to the land.

There is the rather chilling genocidal moment in The Plow that Broke the
Plains though when it talks of how "we cleared the buffalo and the Indian".

The film is also remarkable for Lorentz' row with cinematographers Strand
and Hurwitz. they wanted as good communists to make another kind of film
but Lorentz thought their ideas had nothing to do with dust storms.



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