Muir's Personal and Public Mission
Using historic photos, archival footage and dramatic re-enactments, Tatge follows Muir on his journey to becoming the nation's foremost conservationist and the founder of the influential Sierra Club.
Muir Is A Great Character
The film shows that Muir was an extremely intelligent and clever individual who, from childhood, was a gifted problem solver and inventor. It also reveals the influence Muir's overly stern Calvinist father had on him, how the writings of Alexander von Humboldt and Ralph Waldo Emerson moved him to become engaged as an environmental activist, how his friend and mentor Jeanne Carr encouraged him and silently lobbied to support him hardships and loneliness, and change the course of his life, how his wife Louie Strentzel provided him with the love and stability he needed and how his collaboration and friendship with Robert Underwood Johnson, the editor of The Century, provided him with a vehicle for making his views known thoughout the land.
John Muir's accomplishments are legendary, and this film is an up close and personal view of the man behind the legend.
We witness Muir's moments of discovery, finding places of such extreme natural beauty that they make him ecstatic. Tatge makes it clear that spiritual enlightment is very much a theme in Muir's story.
Great Images, Effective Storytelling
Muir's personal evolution is fascinating. To tell the story effectively, Tatge uses dramatic reenactments, casting modern day mountaineers to play the environmentalist at various stages of his life. Tatge follows Muir's 1000 mile trek from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico, takes you climbing in the high Sierra Nevada and exploring Alaska's glaciers.
Jane Alexander's voice over narration is augmented by readings from Muir's writings. And interviews with historians, scholars and the Sierra Club's current president expound on Muir's accomlishments and present background detail.
Framed as a tribute to Muir, the film is also tremendously effective in advocating for environmental protection. In this, its approach is reverential and inspiring, which is rather different than some other environmental documentaries that effectively raise consciousness about the issues through disturbing images of devastating pollution.
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- Title: John Muit In The New World
- Director: Catherine Tatge
- Release Date: April 18, 2011 (Broadcast on PBS)
- Running Time: 83 mins.
- Parents Advisory: Advisory for content
- Locations: USA, including Yosemite, Sierra Nevada, Alaska, Wisconsin, Alhambra Valley, and elsewhere
- Language: English
- Distribution Company: PBS/American Masters
- Official Website