“National Parks Adventure captures the stunning beauty of our wild places and reminds us these landscapes are an essential part of the human spirit.”
Robert Redford, narrator
Narrated by Academy Award® winner Robert Redford, the new film by MacGillvray Freeman (MFF) National Parks Adventure is a sweeping tribute to the undeniable power of America’s great outdoor treasures. Taking a “consumer’s” perspective, the film’s editors Stephen Judson and Tim Cahill (in conjunction with producers Shaun and Greg MacGillivray) took to the road with world-renowned climber Conrad Anker; his step-son, adventure photographer Max Lowe; and Max’s long-time friend, climber and artist Rachel Pohl. In making the film, the team at MFF was committed to take viewers into the park in a “dynamic” way. In their eyes this threesome embodied the myriad thirsts that the park quenches – be it high adventure or stillness.
The 43-minute movie is produced in association with Brand USA and presented globally by Expedia, Inc. and Subaru of America, Inc., with major support from the Giant Dome Theater Consortium. Immersive IMAX® 3D takes audiences soaring up exposed rock faces, hurtling down steep mountain cliffs and exploring other-worldly realms found within America’s most legendary outdoor places. Along the way, the film becomes at once an action- packed celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service and a soulful reflection on what wilderness means to us all. “I really wanted this film to be much more than a tour,” says Greg MacGillivray, “and to invite audiences to engage with the parks in a fun and immersive way. I wanted to make a freewheeling film that captures the way the parks speak to adventurers, artists, athletes, and anyone who wants to challenge themselves physically, artistically and spiritually within. This is what led me to think of Conrad Anker, who I’ve admired for decades and who is a terrific ambassador for the parks.”
The team at MFF were equally enthralled by Pohl. Like so many of us, Pohl treasures a lifetime of memories tapping into the parks’ treasures. “Growing up in Montana, I’ve been going to Yellowstone for as long as I can remember and climbing up boulders when my mom wasn’t looking for just as long! I think my first distinct memory of a big trip to a national park is going to Utah’s Canyonlands around age 5,” she recalls. “Way back then, I had that red rock — that utterly alien landscape burned into my memory.” Pohl credits these experiences in the shaping of the person she is today. “Experiencing these other worldly realms of beauty as a kid gave me a sense of limitless possibilities, and I soon found I loved using my imagination to interact with nature, which led to me being an artist. I also learned that you can purge any bad feelings you might have just by going for a walk in nature.” Pohl relished her role in seeing this creative project through to its fruition and is hopeful a glimpse of her adventures in the parks might inspire audiences to peel back the many layers of these sweeping playgrounds throughout the United States. “I love the parks so much, I want others to go out and find their own amazing experiences,” Pohl says. “I hope the message comes across that you don’t have to do anything quite as bold as we do to find joy in the parks. There are so many different parks and different ways to have fun. I still have so much more to explore!”
Next up, the film travels to Yosemite with a salute to naturalist John Muir’s 1903 three-day escapade “roughing it” with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt through Yosemite Valley. Shooting at Mariposa Grove the campsite for the legendary duo’s first night together, the film recreates the gentlemen’s plotting to protect and preserve the country’s wilderness. For Mr. Anker, a tip of the hat to Muir was essential. “He was an inspiration to all who love the American wilderness. He was a man ahead of his time who had a deep vision and his willingness to speak passionately and honestly with Teddy Roosevelt became a key to preserving the parks for the future.”
Beyond the iconic Yellowstone and Yosemite, National Parks Adventure also uncovers some of America’s least seen jewels including the dramatically named Devils Tower National Monument, a volcanic wonder rising fiercely up out of the Black Hills of Wyoming. Devils Tower has long been held sacred by local Native American tribes and is also noted for its appearance in the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Among the many other sites featured in the film is Slickrock Trail of Moab Mountain and the natural sandstone archways of Arches National Park. A breathtaking visual triumph, National Parks Adventure is an important record of one of our country’s 409 crown jewels, the National Park System. With rich imagery the film beckons audiences to reacquaint themselves with the great outdoors. The author and philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller, speaking of her father and grandfather’s deep connection with nature and its restorative powers, recently said, “In nature there are no judges. And, we don’t judge nature. We just simply are. We’re present.” National Parks Adventure pulses that sentiment and extends a timely pause in which to honor this refuge.
National Parks Adventure is now playing in IMAX® and giant screen theaters across the country.
Review by Susan Currie