Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Great Flood


Anne and I just finished watching an amazing (but surprisingly obscure, to this day) documentary. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Peter Weir, it tells the story of the flood of the Charlestown area of Boston in 1905.

The images of the flood, coupled with the voices and stories of those affected--most of them poor and working class--were touching and tragic in an unexpected way. What was particularly disturbing was to see, with the benefit of hindsight, the confluence of events (both natural and man-made) that led to nearly 500 deaths, including children and the elderly, due to everything from drowning to lack of medical supplies.

Those who survived were not immune from the tragic consequences, as they were separated from their families--children literally pulled from their parents' arms--in a bizarre relocation effort filled with empty and unfulfilled promises, creating yet another of history's diasporas.

The story is told with both humility and art, which is a rare find, and makes the viewer not only mourn for the victims and survivors, but for a truly great American city. If you have a chance, I strongly recommend checking it out. It's not only a great history lesson, but a cautionary tale for all Americans.

Oh wait... I got a few details wrong. The film was directed by Spike Lee. The city was New Orleans. The year was 2005. And the death toll was 1,800. Other than that, it's all the same.

2 comments:

The Wordman said...

now my brain hurts, Conk ... yer referring to "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts", right?

Marc Conklin said...

Yes.