Saving Brinton takes us into the history of cinema and invites us to look at what’s really important.

May 22, 2018 — By Thom Haines

Are you “weary of the detached frivolousness of a hollow mass culture”?* Do you seek a deeper meaning than what we find in the fire hose of coastal media that can drown us in crazed insignificance?

I’m weary, and I seek deeper meaning. That’s why Saving Brinton, a documentary co-directed by Tommy Haines and Andrew Sherburne, is such a cinematic breath of fresh air. It slowed me down, steeped me in beautiful images and values of the Midwest, and awakened in me an appreciation of cinematic history.**

The film reminded me to continue in the footsteps of Midwesterners Sinclair Lewis, Carl Sandburg, and Marilynne Robinson and challenge the mainstream narrative.   

In From Warm Center to Ragged Edge, Professor Jon Lauck recounts how the cultural center of the United States moved from the agriculture-based center of the country to New York City. He thinks, and I agree, that it would be a very good thing if “the stories of regions such as the Midwest will be heard again, not as distant echoes from the ragged edge, but in the form of rooted voices from the solid center of the nation.”

Saving Brinton does just that, sending out a clarion call to value what is valuable.  

Thom Haines is an Assistant Carver County Attorney in Minnesota and a member of the Mayflower United Church of Christ Global Justice Advocacy Team in Minneapolis. Thom is a regular contributor at Newspeak Review. 

*Professor Jon Lauck, From Warm Center to Ragged Edge

**For a beautifully written account of the cinematic history component of Saving Brinton, see Michael Judge’s piece in The Smithsonian, Thought Lost to History, These Rare, Early Films Survived Thanks to a Crafty Showman and a Savvy Collector.” 


Disclaimer: The author and publisher are related to co-director Tommy Haines as father and brother, respectively. For national reviews of the film, like this one from Frank Scheck in The Hollywood Reporter (“anyone who loves movies is bound to love Mike Zahs, the genial Iowan at the center of this documentary co-directed by Tommy Haines and Andrew Sherburne”), visit the film’s website at  




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s