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Bright Leaves

Documentarian Ross McElwee ("Sherman's March") takes a journey through his native North Carolina's history of tobacco production and its deadly effects via his personal connection to the bright green leaves. McElwee's great-grandfather John Harvey McElwee was a North Carolina tobacco baron run out of business by James B. Duke (of Duke University fame). Ironically, John Harvey's son and grandson became doctors responsible for treating local patients suffering from cancer caused by their use of tobacco. The discovery of "Bright Leaf," a 1950 Hollywood film which purports to dramatize the downfall of Ross McElwee's great-grandfather (as played by Gary Cooper), enables the director to envision dramatic elements that augment his own meditation on the South, tobacco and his relationship to his wife and son. Special features include a director's statement (text), text film notes by film critic Godfrey Cheshire, and three music tracks by Paula Larke. Aspect ratio is 1.66:1, with sound rendered in Dolby 2.0 mono. (Movie - Four Stars, DVD features - One Star) Unrated, 105 mins. (First Run Features)

August 24, 2005 | Permalink