Louisiana Story

From Academic Kids

Louisiana Story is a 1948 78-minute, black-and-white, American fiction film, which is often misidentified as a documentary film. It was written by Frances H. Flaherty and Robert J. Flaherty, and also directed by Robert J. Flaherty. The story deals with the adventures of a young Cajun boy and his pet raccoon, who live a somewhat idyllic existence playing in the bayous of Louisiana.

A major subplot involves his elderly father's allowing an oil company to drill for oil in the inlet which runs behind their house. In an impactful shot, a completely-assembled miniature oil rig on a slender barge is towed into the inlet from connecting narrow waterways. Although there is a moment of crisis when another rig strikes a gas pocket, all of this is dealt with swiftly and off-camera, and the barge, rig, and friendly drillers depart expeditiously, leaving behind a phenomenally clean environment and a wealthy Cajun family. The film was, in fact, entirely funded by a major oil company.

Another major aspect of the plot is the presence of a giant alligator in the area, which is believed to have eaten the pet raccoon and is hunted in revenge.

The unnamed boy was played by Joseph Boudreaux. The film was photographed by Richard Leacock and edited by Helen van Dongen, who were also the associate producers. Original release was through art film distributor Lopert Films Inc.. Other demographics are available at the IMDb.

The film was shot on location in the Louisiana bayou country, using local residents for actors. However, none of the members of the Cajun family (boy, father and mother) were actually related, and the film does not in any aspect deal with Cajun culture or the realilty of the hard lives of the Cajun people, nor with the mechanics of drilling for oil. The story itself is completely fictionalized. It is therefore unclear why, other than for publicity purposes, or out of respect to the then-near-forgotten Flaherty, the film was ever referred to as a documentary, much less why it continues to be. In the early 1950s, it was reissued by an exploitation film outfit with a new title, Cajun, on the bottom half of a double bill with another film called Watusi.

Still and all, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story in 1948. In 1949, Virgil Thompson won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his scoring of the film (which contains only one Cajun-styled piece). The film has more recently been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

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