Previously Played

NORTHERN LIGHTS

  • 2:45 6:25 10:05

$7 Member   $12.50 Regular

Directed by John Hanson & Rob Nilsson

(1978) An old man (played by 94-year-old Henry Martinson, an actual participant in the dramatized events) turns the pages of a brittle diary, and we’re back in the winter of 1915, as Robert Behling crisscrosses a bleak North Dakota in his Model T to drum up support for the Nonpartisan League against the trust-held grain elevators, trains, and banks that constantly threaten foreclosure. Shot on the proverbial shoestring in temperatures that hit 40 below, with a cast of non-pro North Dakotans, apart from Behling, onscreen fiancée Susan Lynch, and pesky friend Joe Spano. Winner, Cannes’ Caméra d’Or for best-directed first feature.  Approx. 95 min. 35mm.

AN ARTISTS PUBLIC DOMAIN/CINEMA CONSERVANCY RELEASE

NORTHERN LIGHTS

REVIEWS

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"Set the tone for much of the American indie movement of the 1980s! "
– Dave Kehr, The New York Times

"A humble, visually arresting work! We see stunning images of gust-swept farmlands, where the sound of a voice echoes briefly before being lost in fields of grass and grain…. there’s a thrill to being a spectator, basking in its pastoral lyricism." 
– Jordan Osterer, Film Comment
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"A TREASURE! A beautifully bleak story where political reform trumps love."
– Village Voice

"Whether this theatrical restoration introduces or re-introduces you to Hanson and Nilsson’s landmark American independent drama, the fact remains that it is A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION!"
– Michael Tully

“One of this year’s real discoveries! A small miracle on a smaller budget: looks and feels like a documentary, bleak and powerful, with scenes of engagement parties, politicking and a bitter harvest before the snow begins to fall. The characters are sharply etched, especially the young organizer, who reminds us of Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. In its own original way, a companion piece to Malick’s Days of Heaven.” 
– Roger Ebert (1979)

“As in Days of Heaven, the directors have chosen to tell their story in a slow-paced, elegiac style that lets us experience the savagery and beauty of the farming life ourselves... One has to look all the way back to the work of Dovzhenko and the documentaries of Robert Flaherty to find a movie that communicates a people’s pathos, nobility and link to the land so poignantly.”
– William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“In startling contrast to the lyrical color cinematography of Days of Heaven, which was about hard times on the Texas plains, Judy Irola’s grainy black-and-white photography is expressively stark, delineating more dramatically such a desperate period... As the camera moves from the vast wheat fields to the people, it evokes memories of the great photographic studies of sharecroppers and migrant workers by Dorothea Lange in the ’30s.”
– Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle