With an average flow of 20,000 cubic meters per second, the Mississippi is classified as one of the largest rivers in the world. Together with its longest tributary, the Mississippi-Missouri measures 6,200 kilometers.
In 1983, Calypso travelled the river from Lake Itasca, Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, documenting the Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, the Cajun fishers of Louisiana Bay, the pages of American history and the struggle of human beings to conquer this immense reservoir of water.
The border between the eastern and western United Slates, the river was an important commercial route: its banks were paved, its bed dredged, straightened, “improved” according to the engineers. In the face of such treatment, fish became rare. Pollution reached worrisome levels: heavy metals, insecticides, PCBs, nitrates and radioactive substances were concentrated around New Orleans, as through a funnel, where cancer reached record levels.
From the air, a flying team recorded the broad sweep of the Mississippi, dubbed the “Father of Waters” by the Indians. All the diverse aspects of the river would be documented on film: the great variety of wild species that depended on the water, the music, the great historic instances (the War Between the States, King Cotton, Mark Twain) that mingled with it. Two films told the grand adventure: Reluctant Ally and Friendly Foe.