Hurricane Katrina wasn’t the first natural disaster to flood streets and homes in Louisiana. The Mississippi River Flood of 1927, the worst river flood in the country’s history, had previously submerged the area’s livelihood and culture. Both deluges displaced thousands of people and had profound, lasting impacts on the region.
“The Great Flood,” a silent film that weaves together worn footage recorded during the 1920s flood, is accompanied by live music from composer Bill Frisell’s jazz ensemble. The collaboration between filmmaker Bill Morrison and Frisell, which was co-commissioned by the Wexner Center, tracks the movement of Southerners to the industrial cities in the North, and those migrants brought with them styles of music that would later evolve into urban blues, jazz R&B and rock.
The pockmarked older film recordings are framed by images captured recently by Morrison, and the poetic documentary’s jazz soundtrack is a fitting tribute to where the flood’s fallout has taken society musically.
Courtesy of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and University of South Carolina Newsfilm Library