America and Lewis Hine is an award-winning, critically acclaimed documentary, narrated by Jason Robards, Jr. and Maureen Stapleton. It portrays the life and times of America's pioneer social photographer, Lewis Hine (1874-1940), who recorded the development of industrial America during the first four decades of the 20th century and whose photographs were used to enact child labor laws. Between 1902 and 1926, fourteen men, women and children poured through Ellis Island to become part of the American labor force. Lewis Hine was present at this great drama; his photographs capture the essence of the immigrants courage and aspirations as they faced the rigors of life in the New World. For the next thirty-five years, in over 15,000 photographs, Hine followed the story of these newcomers as they lived and labored to build America, from the sweatshops of New York's Lower East Side to the mines, mills, and factories across the nation during the early years of this century. Hine's dedication to documenting the story of the immigrants led him to become the staff photographer of the National Child Labor Committee, and his passionate photographs of children at work were instrumental in the crusade to pass child labor legislation. In the 1920's, he undertook a series of "work portraits," in which he emphasized the courage and skill of workers, who were to him still primary in what was then hailed as "the machine age." He hit his peak in 1930, when at the age of 56, he became the official photographer of the Empire State Building. Fearless, he had himself swung out from the mooring mast to photograph the final stages of the building's construction. Hine's skill and artistry are inspiring, and his extraordinary photographs are now recognized as priceless treasures of out national heritage. In addition to Hine's best known work, the film includes rare Hine photographs never before seen, historical footage, and interviews, including those with Anthony "Shorty" Slick, an eighty-year-old coal miner who worked as a "breaker boy," with Harold McClain, the last surviving ironworker who helped build the Empire State Building, and with photographer Walter Rosenblum, who befriended Hine at the Photo League in 1938 and was responsible for the posthumous exhibition and publication of Hine's photos.The script for America and Lewis Hine interweaves Hine's letters, field reports and articles with a narrative featuring the voices of Jason Robards as Lewis Hine, and of Maureen Stapleton as Margaret Byington, an early social reformer. The film's musical score features folk songs, period music by composers such as Scott Joplin, as well as work by contemporary composters such as Brian Eno, Don Cherry, Colin Walcott, George Winston, William Ackerman, Laurie Spiegel, Bela Bartok and Aaron Copeland. The power and appeal of this remarkable documentary derive, above all, from the photographs by Lewis Hine. "Hine's images," wrote TIME magazine critic Robert Hughes, "rank among the greatest camera portraits ever taken, calmly relentless in their inspection of face and pose, profoundly sympathetic. America and Lewis Hine is thus not only an important biographical documentary on one of our nations's greatest photographers, it is also a dramatically compelling and emotionally stirring testament to the character and strength of the men, women, and children who built America.
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Cast & Crew
- Daedalus Productions Inc.
- © 1984 Daedalus Productions, Inc.
- English (Stereo)
- Closed captions refer to subtitles in the available language with addition of relevant nondialogue information.