The Great Flood - In Theaters Now


The Great Flood is in theaters around the United States, 

Click Read More below to view the trailer, screening schedule and locations


The DVD is now available HERE

Released by Icarus Films on May 20th, 2014

Previous Theater Dates:

CaliforniaLosAngelesJanuary24th-February 20th
Downtown Independent (213)617-1393
or click HERE
CaliforniaLos AngelesFebruary 11thMelnitz Movies AS-UCLA (310)825-4265
CaliforniaValenciaMarch 14thRedcat (323)259-9898
FloridaLake WorthFebruary 21stLake Worth Playhouse (561)586-6169
New YorkHudsonJanuary 9th - March 1stTime and Space Limited (518)822-8448
New YorkNew YorkFebruary 2nd - February 16th
Symphony Space (212)864-1414
or Click HERE
OhioAthensApril 11th -  April 17thAthens Film Festival (740)593-1330
TennesseeMemphisApril 3rdMemphis Brooks Museum (901)544-6208
WashingtonSeattleMarch 21st -  March 27th
Grand Illusion Cinema (206)898-9325
or click HERE


View the Trailer:



Press Quotes:

"Critic's Pick! Visual poetry, sublime" - The New York Times

"Archival wizard Bill Morrison's film finds lyricism in disaster" - The Wall Street Journal

"This is cinema as art, and a classic" - LA Weekly

"Fascinating! Required viewing in U.S. history classes throughout the country" - The Daily Beast

"Hypnotic, playful, wildly evocative...Masterfully assembled; a terrific achievement" - LA Times

"Four stars! [Conveys] all the terror and pity that modern disaster footage imparts [and causes] its subject to breathe anew. - Time Out New York

"A history lesson so vividly immediate as to resemble a ghostly conjuration." - The L Magazine

"A remarkable work!" - The Seattle Times

"[An] extraordinary confluence of talents and subject-matter." - The Telegraph

NY Times Review - January 7th, 2014
Recalling a Disaster Without Uttering a Word
by Neil Genzlinger

This probably isn’t the kind of compliment the filmmakers want to hear in the week of its theatrical release, but “The Great Flood,” a beautiful exploration of the Mississippi River flood of 1927, almost demands to be enjoyed using high-quality headphones. Its soundtrack is an artwork in its own right, one worth savoring as you would a fine recording.

This wordless movie, a documentary that is more like visual poetry, is the work of Bill Morrison, created from old newsreels and other film records, like his earlier work “The Miners’ Hymns.” Here his collaborator is the guitarist and composer Bill Frisell, whose score (performed by Mr. Frisell, Ron Miles, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen) meshes with the images so evocatively that it seems as if they were born together.

The flood was devastating, especially to what remained of the Mississippi Delta’s sharecropper economy, so much so that it helped change the country’s demographics, fueling the northward migration of blacks that had already been underway. With just the occasional bit of text on the screen, Mr. Morrison conveys the destruction and the aftermath, although he is sparse enough with the details that viewers might want to prepare by reading at least a summary of the disaster.

The film and Mr. Frisell’s music are elegiac over all, but there are sparks of humor in the mournful journey: a rapid trip through a Sears catalog of the period; a look at government officials visiting flood zones for photo ops, much as they might today.

Mr. Morrison’s résumé includes an entire movie about decaying film stock (“Decasia”), and his fascination with the phenomenon is evident in “The Great Flood.” A number of the film fragments he employs are beginning to deteriorate, and he happily leaves the eroded images as they are. Mr. Frisell’s music seems actually to be calling forth the flaws, like a modern-day digital effect. It’s a sublime, somewhat eerie touch in a striking experiment in music and moviemaking.

Click HERE for the original article


Los Angeles Times Review - January 30th, 2014
An Evocative Look at 'The Great Flood' of 1927
by Gary Goldstein

"The Great Flood," an all-archival clip documentary revisiting the events and effects of the devastating Mississippi River flood of 1927, is by turns hypnotic, playful, wildly evocative and even a bit trippy. But most of all it's a unique, highly immersing audio-visual experience that would be as at home in a museum as it is in a movie theater — and that's a first-order compliment.

Experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison ("Decasia," "The Miners' Hymns") has masterfully assembled a collage of silent, monochrome archival footage of this largely forgotten catastrophe — call it the Hurricane Katrina of its day — in which the Mississippi's levees broke in 145 places, engulfing 27,000 square miles of land from southern Illinois to New Orleans. It resulted in the Flood Control Act of 1928 and the widespread migration of African Americans, many of whom were sharecroppers, to Chicago and other Northern cities.

Morrison organizes his footage, much of which is decayed in ways that lend the picture a vibrant, strangely artistic glow, into mostly successive chapters: "Swollen Tributaries," "Levees," "Evacuation," "Aftermath" and so on. These clips provide a rare and riveting snapshot of a place and time — how people lived, worked, traveled, dressed (boy, were hats popular!) and, in this case, survived. Perhaps most notable is the era's clear racial divide.

Memorably enhancing the movie's time capsule vibe is a bravura sequence that whips and zips its way through an entire 1927 Sears Roebuck catalog.  Guitarist-composer Bill Frisell's wall-to-wall, bluesy-jazzy soundtrack beautifully reflects and unifies the visuals while also helping to personalize this distinct endeavor. It's a terrific achievement.

Click HERE for the original article



LA Weekly Review - 2014
The Great Flood
by Chuck Wilson

In the spring of 1926, it began to rain in the Deep South, and it kept on raining, for months, in a relentless torrent that must have felt biblical. For The Great Flood, his gorgeous new found-footage documentary, filmmaker Bill Morrison has plumbed America’s newsreel archives to stitch together a visual collage of a flood that ultimately submerged 27,000 miles of land, displacing 1 million people. Here are sights few alive have seen: black sharecroppers toiling in the cotton fields of the early 1920s (though in their look these scenes could well be the slave years); African-American men being forced at gunpoint to shore up the levees; tents lining the coast for miles, the biggest campout in U.S. history. And there are the floodwaters themselves, turbulent, terrifying, insanely beautiful. All of this ancient footage is silent, of course, yet The Great Flood is an aural feast. Jazz guitarist/composer Bill Frisell has created a score steeped in the blues tradition of the region, which means that its inspiration comes from the faces onscreen — mournful yes, but also, amazingly, full of humor and joy. Destined for a long life in museums and history classes alike, this is cinema as art, and a classic. 

Click HERE for the original article Review - January 27th, 2014
Koehler on Cinema: The Greatness, and Terror, of a Flood
by Robert Koehler

No words, no images, no sounds can fully convey the total horror of the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. The book that comes closest to putting you in the middle of the most widespread water disaster in American history—it stretched across the entire Mississippi River valley and west, across the river’s tributaries, affecting nearly half the states of the Union and dwarfing the impact of a Katrina—is John Barry’s “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood and How it Changed America” from 1997. Now, with “The Great Flood,” the master of found-footage cinema, Bill Morrison, offers the closest we’re likely to experience of the epic event on the big screen.

Morrison’s fascination with the beauty and textures of decayed celluloid is the basis for a series of stunning works, most famously his spectacular multi-media “Decasia,” that reclaim and remold our perceptions of what silent cinema looks and feels like—literally reviving films from the dead, a kind of reanimation of cinematic corpses. “The Great Flood” is more history than pure art work: Constructing a chronological retelling of the flood’s events, Morrison has painstakingly sought out and edited together documentary footage shot in several States where the flood hit hardest, especially in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. As always, he’s collaborated with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and his group for a soundtrack (recorded live in Seattle’s Moore Theatre). That’s meant to be a contemporary response to history.

Huge downpours (at one point, New Orleans was hit with 15 inches of rain in 18 hours) pounded the Midwest and South during the entire winter of 1926 and into early 1927, causing unprecedented swelling of tributaries flowing into the big river. Morrison shows the weather and raging waters, but he’s most interested in the social impact: Pre-flood cotton growing on the bountiful Delta, with images worthy of Eisenstein; the desperate, hopeless attempts to shore up levees as the flood comes; the concentration camps built only for African Americans, while white Southerners are seen escaping harm’s way boarding trains in their Sunday best; the incredible damage to small towns left in the flood’s horrible wake, looking like a giant monster had ripped through it; the massive emigration by rail of countless African Americans, headed north when farm work was impossible.

Disaster causes fundamental change. The great 1755 Lisbon earthquake, causing many to ponder if there really was a God, triggered the Age of Enlightenment. Morrison’s movie doesn’t explain the full impact of the Great Flood on America and the profound population and racial shifts it caused. But all of this is suggested, especially in its extraordinary final scenes of African Americans living in Chicago, from attending to church to just having fun and dancing up a storm. (Morrison loves to switch his footage from full speed to slow motion, to reveal more detail that our eyes would otherwise miss.) Free of the white man, free of the cotton fields and camps, they can boogie in the Chicago streets. A new world has begun.

Click HERE for the original article

Other Links:

iTunes Trailer - click HERE
Icarus Films - click HERE