Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Movie Miscellany - (Belated) Earth Day Double Feature - Coastal Giants and Planet Earth

Yep, we're having another double feature today, with both movies being belated homages to Earth Day last week. The first is a super wonderful educational-type film called Coastal Giants: the Greatest Living Things on Earth. This movie is "a timeless journey of the past and present through the California Redwoods" and it "includes scenes from Muir Woods National Monument."* I absolutely love Muir Woods, it's incredibly beautiful and one of my favorite places to hike in the Bay Area, so it was extra exciting to find this film in the house VHS collection.

Coastal Giants is a great way to learn a ton of northern California logging and mining history in a very palatable form. It's not dry or bland, and it alternates between little historical stories and videos of the redwoods, so you don't end up being bored to tears. I am not a CA native, so I thought it was really informative and enjoyed it a lot.

One part that I particularly enjoyed is a poem written by Joseph Strauss, the engineer who designed Golden Gate Bridge, aptly called "The Redwoods." It's a wee bit more sentimental than I generally prefer, but it does an excellent job of evoking the feeling of being in the redwoods.

If you want some more wonderful footage of redwood forests, check out the Seasonal Forests episode of Planet Earth. And if you can you should really see the whole series; all the episodes are pretty fantastic. This collaboration between the Discovery Channel and BBC might be one of my favorite TV series ever. I've seen all the episodes multiple times, and I never seem to tire of them. Should note that I prefer the BBC version narrated by David Attenborough. Sorry Sigourney Weaver,** it's hard to top the British accent and snide comments when it comes to nature documentaries.

What I appreciate most about this series is that it does a wonderful job of demonstrating the incredible diversity of life and just what an amazing place we inhabit. The following video is a great example of the cool stuff I would never know about otherwise. It's a Chilean forest that supports an ecosystem of miniaturized mammals. Proceed with caution though, you might be overwhelmed by how freaking cute this is. Seriously, the deer in this forest are so tiny that the fawns are the size of kittens. And the top predator in the food chain is the size of a housecat.

So at last we arrive at my closing thoughts for the post, in which I'll express my frustration in attempting to comprehend people who are adamantly opposed to the environmental movement. I hate isms just as much as much as anyone else, and maybe even more so, but environmentalism, i.e. good stewardship of the planet, is actually a pretty solid idea. No, it's just common sense. The whole point of environmentalism is to take care of this awesome place we lucked out with so it doesn't turn into some uninhabitable mess. So it boggles my mind that people get angry about the responsibility required in taking care of the planet. Haters will be haters, I guess.

* Quoted straight from the video jacket.

** She narrated the US version that aired on the Discovery Channel.

Many thanks to TFCforever for the lovely redwoods photo.

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