Are you a fan of American Indian culture and history? How about photography? Just discovered a fabulous Sundance documentary—Coming To Light—about the life and work of turn-of-the-century photographer Edward S. Curtis.
We’ve all seen his iconic pictures, but I knew little about his personal story until we stumbled across this film on Netflix. Directed by Anne Makepeace, the film weaves Curtis’s biography with his pictures, which, like many Native American practices and traditions, were nearly lost during the 20th century. A huge trove of Curtis pictures, negative, even early motion pictures were discovered in the basement of a Boston bookstore in the 1972, just as a revival of art, religious practices and traditional ways was taking place in Indian Country. Natives spokespeople appear throughout the film, pointing out their relatives, parents and grandparents whom they saw for the first time as young people in these pictures.
Curtis devoted his life to making pictures of cultures he respected and admired because he feared that they would soon disappear, and “the vanishing race” became a popular theme among artists as the government promoted “assimilation” though every conceivable policy.
Amazon also has the documentary for rent or sale, and you can see a trailer here. Thumbs up for this one here in the Eagles’ Nest.