PARE LORENTZ: ATER
THE FIGHT FOR LIFE
By Dr. Robert J. Snyder, Associate Professor
Department of Communication Technologies
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
© 2005 Robert J. Snyder. Prepared
for Heritage Productions for use
on this web site and reprinted here with permission.
Lorentz was presented with
an award at a reception held in the John Adams Room, U.
S. State Department as part of the Centennial celebration
for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Secretary Orville
Freeman made the presentation. This was in recognition
of his first two films, THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS
and THE RIVER.
He was invited by the University Film
Producers Association to give the Kenneth Edwards Memorial
Address. The convention at which the address was presented
was held at Glacier National Park in August 1962.
In May, 1966, Lorentz was invited to the
Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh as part of their first
Panorama of the Arts. Specifically, he was a guest artist
of the Department of Speech, Dr. Joseph B. Laine, Chairman.
Dr. Robert L. Snyder of the department was coordinator
of the event, scheduling Lorentz ' s appearances in classes
to give lectures, present his films and answer the questions
of the students. Because of his hearing problem, a procedure
was developed between Snyder and Lorentz to facilitate
Lorentz's responses to questions from the audience. Snyder
stood at Lorentz's right and relayed the questions to
him. This worked so well that Lorentz continued to use
it in the many public appearances which followed. The
highlight of the guest artist appearance was a public
screening of The River and a speech and question-answer
with Lorentz. Over 150 students, staff and members of
the general public attended.
Lorentz, who had been reticent in the
past to make such appearances, now began an active schedule
of appearances in connection with his filmmaking. These
included: The Pare Lorentz Film Festival at the National
Archives in Washington, D.C., 1970; a program. honoring
composer Virgil Thomson at New York University, 1971;
a series of presentations and lectures at the Pacific
Film Archive, 1972; presentations and lectures at the
Ontario Educational Communications Authority, 1977; and
lectures and presentations at the Universities of Stanford,
West Florida, Georgia, Memphis State, Harvard, Texas-Austin,
As part of its centennial celebration
in 1971, the Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh conferred
upon Pare Lorentz the status of Honorary Professor of
Speech . This, in turn, led to a decision by Lorentz to
give the university material from his personal files,
including books on the subjects of the film, historical
annals of World Wav II, books on motion picture history
and criticism, especially in the field of documentary,
equipment to project the films and play the audio tapes.
Lorentz sent new copies of his first three films and two
of the Air Corps Briefing Films, and Nuremberg. The university,
in turn, created The Pare Lorentz Room to house those
Two more honorary degrees followed from
universities in his home state. In 1972 West Virginia
Wesleyan College, in his hometown of Buckhannon, conferred
upon him the honorary degree Doctor of Letters. West Virginia
University conferred upon him the honorary degree Doctor
of Humanities in 1978.
Three more honors should be mentioned.
When the National Audiovisual Center of the National Archives
issued a new catalog, Documentary Classics Produced
by the U. S. Government, it publicized the release
with a dinner honoring Frank Capra and Pare Lorentz. One
of Capra’s “Why We Fight” and Lorentz’s
“The River” were screened at this event, with
each man introducing his own work. John Houseman served
as toastmaster .
In 1980, The Birmingham International
Film Festival awarded Lorentz the "Sadie" Award
for "outstanding contributions to the field of education."
He was unable to attend the event because of illness and
delegated Dr. Robert L. Snyder to accept the award and
to make a speech in response to the award.
The motion picture industry recognized
his contributions to art of the motion picture in October,
1981 when the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences
held a special salute to Lorentz and his work with a screening
of THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS and THE RIVER at the
Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. In
1985, Lorentz received the first/award for Career Achievement
from the International Documentary Association in Los
Since leaving government service he has
written two books: Lorentz on Film: 1932 to 1941,
a collection/of critiques of films which he wrote during
that period; and Pare Lorentz. FDR’s Moviemaker:
Memoirs and Scripts. The first title was published
by Hopkinson and Blake in 1975 and the second by the University
of Nevada Press in 1992.
The last work noted was begun when he
formed Pare Lorentz and Associates in 1947, under the
working title The Days of Franklin D. Roosevelt: A
Chronicle. In addition to a day-by-day account of
events during the Roosevelt presidency, Lorentz assembled
over 5,000 black-and-white still photographs relating
to the text. The chronicle was in six volumes. A resolution
approving a birthday celebration and the purchase of the
chronicle was approved by Congress but funds were never
And that is an account of what Pare Lorentz
did after he left government service upon completion of
THE FIGHT FOR LIFE.