Drama | English | 110 minutes
Wild River begins by showing newsreel footage of the destruction of property and the loss of lives caused by repeated massive flooding in the Tennessee Valley. To control the flooding, and provide much-needed electricity to the impoverished area, the Federal government forms the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and proceeds with plans to construct a hydroelectric dam. To achieve this, many homeowners must vacate their homes. The TVA dispatches Chuck Glover, head of the land purchasing department, to negotiate the purchase of these homes. Receiving fair compensation, most homeowners accept. However, on the critical Garth Island, the elderly Ella Garth refuses to sell. To avoid bad publicity, Glover tries to reason with Ella: if she remains, her home and property will be under water when the dam is completed. Ella is not convinced. Glover tries to reason with Carol Baldwin, Ella’s granddaughter, but that also fails. Tensions increase when many of the black workers quit their jobs to work for the higher-paying TVA. Even though we know how it turns out, the dam is built, the floods are controlled, the events leading to this are suspenseful and heartbreaking.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 92%
- Berlin International Film Festival: Nominated, Best Director (Elia Kazan)
- Cahiers du Cinéma: Nominated, Best Film
- National Board of Review: Listed, Top Ten Films of the Year
- Wild River was selected fo ther National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
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WILD RIVER is an important motion picture. In studying a slice of national socio-economic progress (the Tennessee Valley Authority of the early 1930s) in terms of people (those who enforced vs those who resisted), it catches something timeless and essential in the human spirit and shapes it in the American image.
Director Elia Kazan knows his subject intimately, having worked on it since 1955. He has filmed it thoughtfully, compassionately and with many touches of meaningful artistry.
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