John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940) visualizes conventions of the apocalypse genre to represent not simply a particular historical setting, the Great Depression, but also a vision of history to be interpreted in terms of eschatology. Expressionistic photography transforms the characters’ experiences into enigmatic visions that invite and guide interpretation. A comparison of montage sequences in Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath and Pare Lorentz’s The Plow That Broke The Plains (1936), a Farm Security Administration documentary, clarifies how Ford’s narrative film aligns spectators within and outside the mise-en-scène.

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