Greg MacGillivray’s “National Parks Adventure”, a 45-minute documentary in IMAX-3D, plays now at the National Museum of Natural History (while the Air and Space theater is remodeled). Indeed, it is a like a quick vacation tour for a movie ticket price.
The film has so many shots that it doesn’t identify them all, but included are the Grand Canyon, AZ, Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming, Devils’ Tower, Wyoming (remember “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), Rewoods, un California (“Vertigo”), Yosemite and Kings Canyon in California, Glacier in Montana (and Waterton in Alberta), many of the thirteen parks in Utah, the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, Crater Lake in Oregon, Hawaii Volcanoes, Denali-McKinley in Alaska, the Everglades in Florida, and Pictured Rocks National Seashore on Lake Superior in upper Michigan.
There is a touching backstory, about the leader, a late-50s fitness guru Conrad Anchor has adopted or raised as a stepson a now-late 20s son who accompanies him with a girl friend, also an extreme sports practitioner, after the kid’s father died in a mountaineering accident.
Indeed, it’s the fitness scenes that are the most compelling. All three adults sprint up steep slope in Utah’s parks (echoing Tom Foreman’s “My Year of Running Dangerously”, Book Reviews, Feb. 1), rappel up spires in Utah, or up Devil’s Tower, and perform lively mountain biking in Utah’s deserts.
Near the Devil's Tower (which is actually still on the Great Plains, like the Black Hills), the documentary digresses to present the prairie dog, recalling Walt Disney's "The Vanishing Prairie" in the 1950s.
In Alaska, there is a scene of young bear cubs learning to fish for spawning salmon, with open mouths and not debit cards.
Visually, the most original scene may be the Ice ballroom in a cave along Lake Superior.
There’s also a scene where they dive-bomb in water rafts into Lake Powell, near the Hoover Dam.
The film brought back some memories of my own trips: Crater Lake (May 1978), Teton and Yellowstone (1981), Hawaii (1980), Utah (1987 and 2000), Grand Canyon (1966), Yosemite (1971), Hoover Dam (1997), and time living in Minnesota.
The MacGillivray-Freeman film site is here.
The Museum was also showing (nearby( the 13-minute History Channel documentary, "Deep Ocean Explorers", as a diving bell goes two miles under the sea. Sunlight is unavailable 1000 feet down, when many organisms exhibit bioluminesence. At the bottom, some sharks and eels feed on the carcass of a whale that has fallen, stripping it in a year. Once again, time for "Free Fish".
First picture: Smokey Mountains, NC-TN, not included in film (as Shenandoah is not included).
See also "Rock the Park" (TV series), TV blog, April 16, 2016.