Apex Goes to the Movies – Take 2!
Posted by Carmin Arnot
in Of Interest
Most of us have had a lot of extra time to watch movies lately, and as this period of enforced idleness stretches on, you may be getting dangerously close to the bottom of your Netflix watchlist. But help is on the way. We’ve been asking our field leaders for their recommendations, in the documentary and Hollywood categories, and this week we hear from Shirley and Marco…and what they say may surprise you.
Shirley Metz’s recommendations
Favorite Hollywood Movie: The Professor and the Madman
Making a movie based on a book is always a contentious project, but when an American film company takes on the British by telling the story of how the Oxford Dictionary came to be written you can imagine that the English dispensed with the usual proper decorum in voicing their indignity. The Professor and the Madman is a 2019 biographical drama film based on the 1998 worldwide best-selling novel, The Surgeon of Crowthorne, by Simon Winchester. It is the extraordinary true tale of two remarkable men—one a Professor of English at Oxford, James Murray, played by Mel Gibson, and the other a medical physician and murderer, W.C. Minor, played by Sean Penn.
Beautifully shot and sensationally acted, the film takes place in 1879 when James Murray is tasked by the Oxford academia to catalogue every single word in the English language. Murray takes on this mission with sincere dedication, but imagine compiling such a tome without access to today’s electronic technology?!? Murray gets bogged down with thousands of ‘index cards’ containing words and meanings until he begins to receive letters from a Dr. William Chester Minor who revolutionizes the process and helps Murray with the more difficult etymology. Murray has no idea that Dr. Minor is undergoing treatment at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum as a result of PTSD from the American Civil War.
There are so many moving parts to this story not least of which is that the true antagonist is British prejudice. The ‘old boy’ Oxford professors do not trust Murray because he is Scottish. When they discover that his associate is in an asylum, they threaten to wrest the project from the protesting Murray. Neither Murray nor Minor would live to see their daunting project come to fruition.
I hope you watch the movie and even read the book. This is one of those stories which inspires us to honor all the men and women who steadfastly believe in their mission and make the sacrifices they deem necessary to further knowledge and humanity.
Best Documentary: Greg MacGillivray’s Great Bear Rainforest
I have never seen a “Spirit Bear” but certainly I believe in them because my good friend and colleague, Kevin Clement, told me they exist. I have also seen the photographs from all of our clients who have had the great fortune to accompany Kevin on the Apex Expeditions “Spirit Bears” trip to British Columbia. In addition, I personally have known Greg MacGillivray, the producer and filmmaker of this documentary, for nearly 40 years and he would never lead me astray. MacGillivray has shot more 70mm film than anyone in celluloid history, having received two Academy Award nominations for Best Documentary Short Subject.
A year ago, I learned that Great Bear Rainforest was playing at the IMAX Theater at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria during my birthday. Victoria is only a ferry ride across the Juan de Fuca Straits for us, so Peter’s present to me included a stay at the legendary Empress Hotel plus, among other events, two tickets to the documentary.
We both had an interest in the subject matter because of Apex’s unique itinerary to Canada’s remote Pacific coast. The Spirit Bear is the rarest bear on earth. It resides in the Great Bear Rainforest, the last intact temperate rainforest in the world and has been protected by the region’s indigenous people for millennia. A subspecies of the North American Black Bear, its fur is white due to a rare genetic trait and is only found in this rainforest. It is believed that there are only about 50-100 of these rare bears—no one knows for sure. The film documents the First People’s involvement in not only protecting the rainforest but its rare inhabitants. Please be sure to go see it when IMAX Theaters open up once again. In the meantime, you can visit the Great Bear Rainforest film website to learn about the challenges of making a documentary in a rainforest.
Marco Tonoli’s recommendations
Favorite Movie: The God’s must be crazy
A cult classic. If you’ve seen it, watch it again, and if you haven’t, go watch it NOW! This is the somewhat comical yet entirely heart-warming story of a young San Bushman that discovers an empty glass bottle of Coca-Cola that is cast from the skies from a passing aircraft, truly a gift from the gods. Regretfully, causing some jealousy and dissent within his clan, he determines the gods must indeed be crazy, and so ventures into the wide world to cast the bottle over the edge of the world to return it to the gods.
The journey is filled with adventure and humor as he encounters all walks of life that represent very real elements of southern Africa’s history at the time. The revolutionary leader, the elephant researcher, the foreign volunteer, and the hunter are all characters met along the way. A truly splendid African tale from the heart of the Kalahari. Enjoy!
Best Wildlife Documentary: Eternal Enemies—National Geographic by Derek and Beverly Joubert
Now I will admit, that due to the fact that this documentary was shot some time back, it may not hold the crisp HD quality we have all become accustomed to today. But for me, this was one of the early documentaries in my life that drew me to the wilds of Botswana. Following the life story of an adult lioness and a young female pup destined to become the leader of her clan, this is a tale of a pride of Lion and clan of Hyena that reside in the same area of the Okavango Delta. As two savagely competing super predators, constantly interacting and competing for resources, this is both a dramatic, action filled and incredibly thoughtful and educational film on the relationship between Spotted Hyena and Lion.