Releasing a TV documentary series titled “America the Beautiful” on the 4th of July is nothing short of a shining moment. Not everyone will be going to the movies that weekend, and it helps that you can stay home to watch this impressive documentary.
Bringing the world into people’s homes since 1888 and across television screens for nearly 60 years, National Geographic certainly knows how to put on a show, and from both visual and cinematic perspectives, America The Beautiful (ATB) is devastatingly impressive and genuinely inspiring.
Similar to the “Star Gate” sequence from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the five co-directors of “ATB” feature time-lapse aerial photography of various North American locations and terrain used throughout this six-part series, 238-minute long series, and never gets old or ceases to amaze you.
Episode 1 (“Land of Heroes”) is by far the best of the series, mainly because it’s the first time we get to see the impressive content that makes up the series. We witness a resourceful squirrel hoarding acorns in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons; nature’s slow but steady organic recovery after the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state; a 15-foot, 1,000-pound American alligator in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin; and the hunting of a school of anchovies by dolphins and sea lions off the coast of San Diego.
In episode one, you can almost feel the heat rising from the scorched earth in Death Valley or relax in awe at the spectacular time change of the autumn leaves in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The episode concludes with the mesmerizing, dancing, cool colors of the Northern Lights in Alaska’s summer skies and our first glimpse of a majestic bald eagle.
Episode two is almost as good and is the only installment in the series to include humans on screen. Animal doctors undertook the mammoth task of repopulating three million acres of ancient forest on the Northern Great Plains with endangered bison. A father-daughter team near Stillwater Cove, California, next to the famous Pebble Beach golf course, extracts more than 50,000 poisonous and decaying golf balls from the ocean floor.
There’s a fascinating section on using motion-sensing cameras to track the notoriously difficult Florida Panther. At one point in the 1970s, the population of panthers, an official Florida state animal, was down to about 20. Still, thanks to the hard work of specialists working in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, by 2017 there was increased to 230.
Stretching across the entire state and covering more than 17 million acres, the Corridor is home to more than 700 threatened or endangered species, many of which live in close proximity to humans and high-risk infrastructure. volume. The conservation group’s work over the past 40 years has been incredibly successful, showing that it is indeed possible for humans and nature to co-exist happily.
The series is packed with stunning images of some of North America’s most majestic wildlife, from owls and bears to alligators, and some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable. It’s all tied together nicely with some nice narration provided by Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther).
Here in Britain, most of what we have heard or seen from America in recent years has been about questionable political and social issues. It’s easy to forget how incredibly vast and beautiful this country is, with diverse native wildlife and a climate to match.
America The Beautiful offers an impressive representation of North America (it’s worth mentioning that it’s not just about the US, it includes a section based on Canada) and is well worth a watch, with well-produced visuals and engaging storytelling.
The series premieres on Disney+ on July 4.