Power and the Land by Ivens (1940); The Plow that Broke the Plains by Lorentz (1936); The New Frontier by McClure (1934); and The River by Lorentz (1937).

Available as a VHS tape distributed by Kino Video some years ago. These are classis Depression-era government documentary films that show the growing political awareness of what today we would call “sustainable technology/ economics.” They also embrace the early 20th century optimism that technology is a solution to all social problems. My favorite of the bunch is Power and the Land, which “observes the daily activities of a dairy farming family in Ohio. The majestic photography…elevates them to iconic figures of Americana, their diligence rewarded by the messianic government in the form of electricity.” (from the liner notes). This film pairs nicely with readings from Marx’s Machine in the Garden as well as readings/ discussions of the core meanings of “modernity” and “progress.”