Louisiana Story

I watched “Louisiana Story,” a film directed by Robert Flaherty back in 1948.  It shows these oilmen coming into the Petit Anse Bayou in Louisiana and disrupting life with their noise and speedboats.  It’s very nicely photographed in black and white and sometimes has the feel of “Nanook of the North.”  It’s almost as though the boy in this film is Nanook of the Bayou.  He smiles a hell of a lot, but I’m not sure if it’s from the innocence of youth, or if he’s just sort of stupid.

The opening sequence, which has a lot of shots of the wildlife in the area, is quite memorable and beautiful.

There’s a suggestion of magic in the story, with the Cajun boy wearing his charms, carrying a bag of salt with him always, and using spit on his bait to make it more effective.  He doesn’t have a faithful dog for a pet.  A raccoon hangs out with him in the boat.

It’s a simple story, but there’s an absorbing atmosphere of contrasts.  The boy struggles to row in his boat, while the oil people speed by in their boats, sending ripples that cause the boy to fall out of his boat into the water.  Life in the bayou is quiet until the drilling starts, and the loud noises from the derrick, with all the clanging of metal late at night, are disturbing.

In one part of the film, the boy seeks to gain revenge for the death of his raccoon by trapping the vicious alligator nearby.  He gets a rope around it and struggles with it for a long time.  This sequence echoes the part in “Nanook of the North” in which there’s a struggle with a walrus during a hunt.  It took several men to struggle with the prey, until they were exhausted.  It’s difficult to hunt these animals.  Meanwhile, the men on the derrick are working with modern machinery, not spears and traps and ropes.

The boy seems to be on a permanent vacation, rowing around in his boat, hunting, and hanging out with the driller and the boilerman on the derrick.  He has a boyish interest in guns and machines, as he observes the men and work and visits the rig when it’s deserted.  He seems to wander far from home often.  He makes me think he’s a character out of a Mark Twain novel.  It seems a bit strange that at one point his father yells at him that he’s a good for nothing kid.  He’s a bit too curious about the oil drilling, but he seems to stay out of trouble.  He’s as fascinated with machines as with nature.

The only other character is the boy’s mother, who barely seems to have a role at all.  It seems that this is a man’s world.  I guess you have to remember that the entire story is coming from the boy’s point of view.

I would not say that this is an essential film to see, but it’s very interesting in order to compare the filmmaking style with what you see from today’s directors.  There was a lot of work that went into the 79 minutes of film.  The main flaw, I would say, is that the actors are not the greatest.  The few lines of dialogue they’ve given are not delivered convincingly.  I do like the fact that the film is primarily visual, without the characters chattering away, or making speeches.

“Louisiana Story” was released in 1948, and Robert Flaherty would die in 1951.  Flaherty will be remembered most for “Nanook of the North,” but this film is a worthy conclusion to his life’s work.

On the A’s radio pregame show last night, they talked about the trip to Japan.  In order to get what they wanted to eat at a restaurant, they did a lot of pointing.  Billy Beane and Bob Geren rode the bullet train.  They said that the Tokyo Dome was a terrible stadium, comparable to the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The Letterman show was a rerun, so I watched Jay Leno last night.  The bit that he did before the first guest was the 99 Cent Store Shopping Spree.  It seemed that an unusual number of items he discussed were from China.

I awoke this morning and played some New Super Mario Bros.  I was determined to get to a point where I could save my progress.  I wasted too much time with this game.  I wasted more time with Super Mario Galaxy, starting a new file with a Mii icon.  It does look something like me.  It would be great if I could actually play the game as me instead of Mario.

I listened to Casey Kasem and a Top 40 Countdown program on KFRC from 1975.  The number one song was “Lady Marmalade.”  The number two song was Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You.”  I didn’t think that one was such a distinguished song, except that she was good at hitting those very high notes.

On Saturday mornings on KFRC, they have a program called Magical Mystery Tour, obviously about the Beatles.  This morning’s program was a tribute to Norman Smith, the Beatles’ first recording engineer, who died on March 3 at the age of 85.  I haven’t been listening lately because of the work I’ve been doing recently on Saturdays.  Today and next Saturday I won’t be working because there are A’s home games.  I’d like to use the weekends to do something else.  The extra money isn’t worth it if I’m imprisoned by work.

I looked out at the skies and saw dark clouds and felt drizzle.  It’s not a promising outlook for today’s game at the Coliseum.  The weatherman said there would be clearing skies this afternoon, so I’m not very optimistic that it will be a good day.  I’m bringing with me a new scorebook and a couple of CDs for the ride home after the game.  I have Run-DMC and Elvis Presley.  I guess I should also bring along a plastic bag to keep my things dry.

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