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Pare Lorentz, a filmmaker whose Depression-era documentaries earned him a reputation as a chronicler of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, has died. He was 86.

Lorentz died Wednesday at his Armonk home. His wife, Elizabeth, said he had suffered in the past five years from bouts of fever that disabled his legs, arms and speech. Doctors couldn't find the cause, she said.A former journalist and film critic, Lorentz went to work for President Roosevelt's U.S. Resettlement Administration, where he made two films in the late 1930s considered prime works in the development of the American documentary.

"The Plow That Broke the Plains," in 1936, told how mismanagement and lack of soil conservation turned the fertile Great Plains into the Dust Bowl. In 1937, "The River" documented flooding on the Mississippi River.