The Miners' Hymns from 2010, and I would say that his love and under-standing of history, photography and justice is as equally strong in this new film. Again, there is no narration or dialog in The Great Flood. Instead, it's all visuals and accompanying music. But what visuals and music!
The visual footage Morrison has unearthed is remarkable in a couple of ways: that it still exists and he found it, for one thing; for another, that some of the film, having been shot on nitrate stock, has partially disintegrated. This deterioration does fit into the filmmaker's esthetic (Decasia) and, as used here, gives the finished film a kind of decaying/magisterial, glorified/sorrowful look.
Jerome Kern song Ol' Man River, which we hear over and over, almost as a kind of vamping to help set us up for the powerful chorus. Never fear, that chorus eventually is heard in all its glory toward the film's finale. In between Frisell and his musicians (Ron Miles, trumpet; Tony Scherr, bass, guitar; and Kenny Wollesen, drums, vibes) give us all sorts of music, mostly jazz-inflected, that eventually combines to take us back to an event, in a time and place that seem both a century past and all too timely once again.
Icarus Films, in black-and-white and running just 80 minutes, opens this Wednesday, January 8, in New York City at the IFC Center, and on January 9 in Hudson, NY, at Time & Space Limited. Other engagements across the country? Hope so. And, yes: We've just learned that this film will be opening in Los Angeles this Friday, January 24, for a week-long run at the Downtown Independent. Meanwhile its NYC release at IFC Center has been extended. As is true, I believe, of most Icarus films, it will eventually be released on DVD, and maybe to digital and streaming -- though all of this can take a very long time, so see it at the theatrical venues, if possible. (How long? Well, one of the best docs of 2010, Icarus' Disco & Atomic War will be arriving on home video DVD and VOD on February 25 -- well over three years after its American theatrical debut.)