Movers and Stakers: Stories Along the Indiana National Road
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A good documentary shines a light on a subject you didn’t even know you were lacking information on. Mover and Stakers: Stories Along the Indiana National Road shows the history behind US-40, Indiana’s National Road. The documentary just focuses on the Indiana portion of the road that stretches from Maryland to Illinois. There is plenty on information filled in the hour, but the tone it supplies is what will stick with you the longest.
This may not start off as the most interesting of topics, but the way it is delivered is worth the viewing. The dialog and the stories are not like a forced school lecture, but by a charming friend who is very knowledgeable. The film is delightful and a lot of that comes from knowing how to tell these tales. It balances how to tell a story through expert interviews, voice-overs, and re-creations. None of them overpower the other or compromise a good story.
The stories within the segments aren’t designed to have you change your perception of Indiana, but to give you a stronger sense of its past. The strongest one was focusing on the author James Whitcomb Riley. A lot of the information comes from an actor who has portrayed him for many years. Riley was best known for Little Orphant Annie, even though he intended the creation to be called “Little Orphant Allie”.
Since the throughline of the movie is the road, they had to cover the invention of the automobile. They talk to the descendent of Henry Ford about the impact of the Model-T. It turns out it wasn’t the invention that made the automobile boom, but it boomed once it was accessible to families. The road became more useful when families were actually able to travel for the first time.
Some segments work more than others, but none of them last too long. What you really come away from is a sense of history about Indiana. This film may not work as a universal picture, but it plays upon the heartstrings of Hoosiers. It’s a well-made documentary and is a worthy inclusion in this year’s festival. As great it is to see some amazing movies from across the United States and other parts of the world, the Indianapolis International Film Festival should also be there to highlight some of the unseen portions of its home state.