“Great River” was made in 1963 as a joint effort between the Bureau of Reclamation and BPA. It covers many aspects of getting power and water to the people, including wheeling, distribution, direct-service industries, the Northwest Power Pool and community revitalization as a result of massive irrigation projects. The film was re-released in 1973 with a new introduction by longtime Portland newscaster and news director Ted Bryant and a different ending — BPA excised the last few minutes of the original film, which lamented the lack of flood control in the upper Columbia River. Changes after the implementation of the 1964 Columbia River Treaty with Canada, as well as new attention to environmental issues, likely led to the release of the updated version. Both versions of the film provide an overarching view of the purpose of BPA and the accomplishments of Reclamation. The production offers a fascinating look at the agencies’ partnership.
The digital transfer of the 1973 film was made from a 1990s video master, which retains the true colors of the original. The 1963 version was never transferred to video, and the film print was too degraded to reproduce. However, a few clips of the original are shown in the disc introduction.