O   r   g   a   n   i   c       M   e   c   h   a   n   i   c   s:
The Aesthetics of American Documentary Film in the 1930s
In the 1930s, when the sustained period of economic downturn now known as the Great Depression was exacerbated by widespread natural disaster, questions of the relationship between man, machine, and the natural world rose to the fore. As government, private, and corporate powerhouses attempted to alleviate the nation's woes by providing varying opportunities for employment, they produced what amounted to elaborate publicity campaigns which might now be qualified as in some sense "documentary." Although each film proposes a different solution to the problem of unemployment, their documentary impulses (only a small sample of which are showcased here) are all haunted by the weak echo of a great literary tradition: pastoralism. This project explores how the remnants of American pastoralism can be seen in these 1930s films.