Crude Independence DVD Review

Crude Independence

Thank goodness Noah Hutton’s ‘Crude Independence’ was about people and not oil. Sure oil might be a timely catalyst for the economic and social upheaval experienced by a small town after the discovery of 200 BILLION gallons of oil under their land, but the hot button issue certainly doesn’t bog down the human drama with facts and figures.

As the picturesque landscape of Stanley, North Dakota slowly succumbs to the numerous oil wells, a community is forced to deal with some newfound riches — for those lucky enough to own their property’s mineral rights — and hordes of outsider oil drillers filling up their hotels and bars. The on screen culture clash immediately reminds me of Farmingville, Flag Wars and the Maysles’ Christo films. Aesthetically, Hutton seems to be tapping into Peter Berg’s Friday Night Lights, fetishizing the wide, working class landscapes and complimenting the dusky photography with a whispy score — written by Hutton — exhibiting shades of Explosions in the Sky. It’s like a Texas version of North Dakota!! I really enjoyed hearing the different perspectives expressed by the community as the town hotels and bars fill up with oil rig workers. As the dynamics between the two groups clash, you get a real sense that the small town could actually be facing a total cultural upheaval as oil wells start outnumbering grain silo’s.

Overall, Crude Independence was a surprisingly intimate look at a small aspect of the oil industry that’s usually buried under the bigger, more sensational issues. It was refreshing to see the midwest step in for the middle east on this one.

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