The National Parks – Ken Burns

Most people who know me know that I LOVE the National Parks.  It has been an obsession of mine to see every single unit of the national park service…all 391!  I’ve been to 128 so far…and counting.  I fell in love with the national parks on September 3, 1994 when my friend Gannon Macneil and I took a Labor Day Weekend roadtrip to Northern Arizona.  I’ll never forget that incredible awestruck feeling of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time.  It simply wowed me that something like it existed.  Having grown up in the flattened glacial country of the northern midwest, mountains and valleys and great landscapes were simply not a part of my vocabulary.  And my parents just didn’t take me to the national parks when I was a kid…they were all more than a day’s drive away and that was about the limit to my travels until high school and college.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea is director Ken Burn’s opus to our country’s most beloved natural and scenic places.  And the 6-part miniseries (12 hours) definately shows some spectacular film and photo footage of our nation.  The series initially aired on PBS at the end of September.  I just finished watching the last episode tonight after recording all six parts in High Def on my DVR two months ago.  Burns is definately an incredible documentary filmmaker, having first become aware of him 13 years ago when I watched his PBS miniseries film The West (1996)…and then Lewis & Clark (1997) and Frank Lloyd Wright (1998).   I love the way Burns ties together historic photos & writings with current film and interviews.  My only complaint is that I think Burns films like the soundtrack that they deserve.  While often visually stunning and emotional poignant in narrative, the power of a great poetic score eludes Burns and his films.  It’s the one thing that I feel I will bring to my film work.

The Grand Tetons of Wyoming…one of my favorite places in the world:

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About Brad Swenson

Appreciating and contributing to the art and craft of movies, television, videos, and photography is my daily mission in life. My canvas for expression is emotion. I'm driven to discover and share interesting stories about people, their actions, their thoughts, their feelings, their work, and their contributions to the web of life.

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