What was once seen as progress is now viewed as a nightmare. Back in 1924, this documentary had no ecological or political overtones. Not that the political angle didn't exist (in fact there was a huge oil scandal going on in Washington at the time), it's just not emphasized here. At the time, the important point was that the United States was both the biggest producer and consumer of oil. Only later in the century would the Middle East take over as the force behind oil production. As for ecological concerns, the 1920s were a very naïve time, and nobody realized the damage that was being done to the earth in the name of progress. As this documentary shows, oil is seen to be a very natural substance with a history that goes back to ancient days. Noah is shown using pitch to seal his ark and Native Americans are seen using it as medicine and as hair dressing. Back in the silent era, it only seemed a natural progression to begin building oil wells, and then to build more and more as the consumption increased without end. Director/producer Captain Hank Butler managed to insert enough humor into his documentary so that it wasn't too tedious. According to Butler's scenario, the only ones who had issues with oil were lovers who were annoyed by the presence of kerosene lamps. Times have certainly changed since the making of this documentary.
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