Ken Burns' "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"

Premiers this Sunday–PBS website

As a huge fan of the parks, I’ve really been looking forward to this. The reviews are somewhat mixed–to be expected I suppose. After the recent spate of terrific HD nature documentaries, 12 more hours of landscapes and wildlife might be a bit boring for some folks.

I think that National Parks ARE one of our greatest ideas. Whatever issues people have with how the land is managed, the parks remain places of inspiration, wonder and adventure. We owe the people that made–and make–them possible a huge debt of gratitude. (even if some rangers don’t know how far it is from Grand Canyon Village to Tusayan…:p)

I’m glad that Burns took on the job of telling their story. I particularly like what he said about seeing Yosemite in person for the first time:

My only question is, HOW is Burns going to turn the entire documentary into a commentary on American racism…

I watched all the Civil War documentary but didn’t really watch more than episode or two of the baseball and jazz documentaries as I’m not that into either baseball or jazz. Is that where he went with both of those shows?

Damnit, I don’t have tv. Will this be available on the web?

Here’s all I see so far, Cisco:

Bah, my hard disk is full, and if I had whatever they’re charging in my entertainment budget, I’d just go buy some bunny ears and watch it on my big screen. Thanks, though.

It looks like you can watch the episodes online beginning on the 28th.

You can see that he’s shooting on an Aaton.

I have one of those! :cool:

OK, so mine is rather a lot older and not as advanced as his; but still…

Well, it’s virtually impossible to explore any of these 3 American institutions without dwelling on racism, but Burns has done other historical docs (Brooklyn Bridge, for one) that are terrific windows in the past without having a particular agenda or “p.c.” ax to grind.

I love me parks too. They’re awesome!

Though I do think it’s funny that our nation’s “best idea” has been virtualized and televised like everything else. I wonder if the parks’ original supporters envisioned miles and miles of pristine wilderness preserved for generations to come, all viewable in 1080p high-def while tweeting “omg you won’t believe this pretty ‘nature’ thing I saw TV!” :slight_smile:

But hey, some parks eve have Wi-Fi these days, so there’s no excuse not to watch The National Parks: America’s Best Idea from inside one.

Almost 8,000 posts and I’m finally making an impression.

I went to Yosemite for the first time about a year ago[sup]*[/sup]. You could film that place with the best IMAX 3-D in existence, and it wouldn’t hold a candle to the real thing. I stood in the meadow at the base of El Capitan for a while, sharing binoculars and telephoto lenses with another guy. We managed to find a few Gore-Tex clad specs clinging to cracks in the wall. I can see why that place has inspired people, but no photograph, no movie, no description, is as jaw-dropping as actually being there.

Don’t know that I’m really qualified to agree with the rest of Burns’ assessment, but it sure sounds good.

Oh, I completely agree. I just hope those people watching at home know what they’re missing.

I sure as hell never knew any better until I actually went to places like Alaska and Yosemite and experienced them for myself. Before then, I figured “Seen one postcard, seen the world”. I’ve met people who’ve never hiked or camped before and their idea of the Great Outdoors really is the Discovery Channel. Anything that gets people interested enough in these treasures to actually use them is a good thing, IMO, and I certainly hope that movie helps.

Like this: “The National Parks sure are swell, but you really shouldn’t enjoy them, because President Andrew Jackson put the screws to the Native Americans 180 years ago.”

There’s the series in a nutshell, and I haven’t even seen it yet :slight_smile:

Seriously, injustice needs to remembered and placed in its proper context, but going overboard with it can be self-defeating.

i’ve seen a bit of the first section. there is native history.

it is amusing that they wanted to preserve yellowstone so the hot springs wouldn’t go the way of niagara falls.

I think I’ve seen all of KB’s stuff, and it’s true that many of them (Civil War, natch, and Baseball, Jazz and The War) do manage to find a racial POV. I don’t think any of them went particularly overboard in doing so.

I was somewhat surprised to find that the Indians’ name for Yosemite was “place of the gaping mouth” (Ahwahnee…which is now the name of the hotel in the park). I wondered if you lived there long enough, your mouth would stop hanging open. Apparently not.

I *like *John Muir. A fruitcake…but my kinda fruitcake. And I think I agree with him and might’ve done likewise if I were him.

People might be surprised to learn that blacks (the Buffalo Soldiers) were among the earliest National Park Rangers.

I enjoyed the first 2 hours (my local station had it on six times today, starting at noon). I really liked the John Muir mini-biography, and I didn’t realize he was such a crazy outdoorsman (“He climbed to the top of a tree during a storm to know what the tree felt”, etc.). My only criticism is that it dragged a bit. Otherwise, it was great, and I now feel that my HDTV purchase was worth it. :slight_smile:

Big fan of the Parks here - not so much of Ken Burns.

Haven’t made it through one of his marathons yet, and doubt this will be an exception. Recorded 4 hours of it yesterday, and made it through the first 1. His films just seem (to me) to be so slowly paced. And I really get tired of the same noodling on guitar in the background. And this atheist could do with a few less references to God, spiritualism, etc.

Will probably try to slog through some more, but the task will seem more daunting as the hours pile up on my recorder . . .

Nothing against Yosemite and Yellowstone, but I’m looking forward to learning more about the other national parks. I know next to nothing about the parks in Hawaii, and that flowing lava looked spectacular.

I thought the first installment was marvelously assembled, balancing the informative with something larger and more ethereal and philosophical (democracy, spirituality, etc.). Great stuff, I look forward to the dramatic tensions that appear to be in store for the rest of the series.