Gordon Parks

The Learning Tree

The Learning Tree

With this tender and clear-eyed coming-of-age odyssey, the renowned photographer turned filmmaker Gordon Parks not only became the first Black American director to make a Hollywood studio film, he also served as writer, producer, and composer, resulting in a deeply personal artistic achievement. Based on Parks’s own semi-autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree follows the journey of Newt Winger, a teenage descendant of Exodusters growing up in rural Kansas in the 1920s, as he experiences the bittersweet flowering of first love, finds his relationship with a close friend tested, and navigates the injustices embedded within racist legal and educational systems. Exquisitely capturing the bucolic splendor of its setting, this landmark film tempers nostalgia with an incisive understanding of the harsh realities, hard-won lessons, and often wrenching moral choices that shape the road to self-determination of the young Black man at its center.

Film Info

  • United States
  • 1969
  • 107 minutes
  • Color
  • 2.35:1
  • English
  • Spine #1107

Special Features

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New documentary on the making of the film and its artistry, featuring curator Rhea L. Combs and filmmakers Ina Diane Archer, Ernest R. Dickinson, and Nelson George
  • New conversation, moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie, between artist Hank Willis Thomas and art historian Deborah Willis about the influence of director Gordon Parks
  • The Moviemakers, a featurette that shows Parks on location for the film
  • My Father: Gordon Parks (1969), a documentary made on the set of The Learning Tree, narrated by Gordon Parks Jr., and featuring interviews with Gordon Parks Sr. and members of the cast and crew
  • Diary of a Harlem Family and The World of Piri Thomas, two 1968 films on which Parks played creative roles, with an introduction by Combs and George
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: A 1963 Life magazine photo-essay by Parks, and an excerpt from the director’s 2005 book A Hungry Heart: A Memoir

    New cover by La Moutique

Purchase Options

Coming soon, available Dec 14, 2021

Special Features

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New documentary on the making of the film and its artistry, featuring curator Rhea L. Combs and filmmakers Ina Diane Archer, Ernest R. Dickinson, and Nelson George
  • New conversation, moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie, between artist Hank Willis Thomas and art historian Deborah Willis about the influence of director Gordon Parks
  • The Moviemakers, a featurette that shows Parks on location for the film
  • My Father: Gordon Parks (1969), a documentary made on the set of The Learning Tree, narrated by Gordon Parks Jr., and featuring interviews with Gordon Parks Sr. and members of the cast and crew
  • Diary of a Harlem Family and The World of Piri Thomas, two 1968 films on which Parks played creative roles, with an introduction by Combs and George
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: A 1963 Life magazine photo-essay by Parks, and an excerpt from the director’s 2005 book A Hungry Heart: A Memoir

    New cover by La Moutique
The Learning Tree
Cast
Kyle Johnson
Newt
Alex Clarke
Marcus
Estelle Evans
Sarah
Dana Elcar
Kirky
Mira Waters
Arcella
Joel Fluellen
Uncle Rob
Malcolm Atterbury
Silas Newhall
Richard Ward
Booker Savage
Russell Thorson
Judge Cavanaugh
Peggy Rea
Miss McClintock
Carole Lamond
Big Mabel
Kevin Hagen
Doc Tim Cravens
James Rushing
Chappie Logan
Dub Taylor
Spikey
Felix Nelson
Jack Winger
George Mitchell
Jake Kiner
Saundra Sharp
Prissy
Stephen Perry
Jappy
Don Dubbins
Harley Davis
Jon Lormer
McCormack
Morgan Sterne
Mr. Hall
Thomas Anderson
Pastor Broadnap
Philip Roye
Pete Winger
Hope Summers
Mrs. Kiner
Carter Vinnegar
Seansy
Bobby Goss
Skunk
Credits
Director
Gordon Parks
Written for the screen by
Gordon Parks
Produced by
Gordon Parks
Based on the novel by
Gordon Parks
Music by
Gordon Parks
Associate producer
James Lydon
Director of photography
Burnett Guffey
Art director
Edward D. Engoron
Editor
George R. Rohrs
Set decorator
Joanne MacDougall
Story consultant
Genevieve Young
Sound
Robert Miller
Unit production manager
Russell Llewellyn
Music orchestrated and conducted by
Tom McIntosh
Original song “The Learning Tree” sung by
O. C. Smith
Special photographic effects
Albert Whitlock
Assistant directors
Jack Aldworth
Fred Giles
Music supervision
Sonny Burke
Makeup supervision
Gordon Bau
Supervising hairstylist
Jean Burt Reilly
Administrative assistant to Mr. Parks
Suzanne Crayson