Now here’s something to really look forward to in the fall television schedule: Ken Burns, the acclaimed documentary historian of many important aspect of American life and socio-cultural-political history has finally turned his famous camera lens onto this country’s natural heritage, specifically the parts that people have chosen to protect for posterity in The National Parks, America’s Best Idea. The US is, in some ways, a birthplace of modern National Parks set up by democratic governments, and this model has influenced conservation strategies worldwide, for better or for worse. Given Burns’ background, it is hardly surprising that this documentary will focus not just on the natural beauty and wildlife of the Parks, but more on the people involved in creating and sustaining them:
Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature’s most spectacular locales — from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska — The National Parks: America’s Best Idea is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background – rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy. It is a story full of struggle and conflict, high ideals and crass opportunism, stirring adventure and enduring inspiration – set against the most breathtaking backdrops imaginable.
The website for the show has a number of interesting video clips – here’s one from an affiliated station:
And here’s another clip with a short interview with Burns:
And according to the Sierra Club, which is an outreach partner for the documentary series, many local PBS stations are airing a special “making-of” show this Sunday, on May 24th! KVPT, the Fresno affiliate at channel 18, has it listed at 9:30 PM.