Kevin Clement watching his favorite Hollywood movie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Gerald Broddelez watching David Attenborough’s Our Planet
Apex Goes to the Movies
Posted by Carmin Arnot
in Of Interest
Most of us are not getting out much these days, and with that in mind, over the past weeks we’ve been offering you some reading recommendations. But let’s face it, sometimes the written word is just not what you need. Then it’s time for, as they say nowadays, “Netflix and chill.” In other words, you want to watch a good movie. Well, our field leaders are right there with you. We’ve been asking them to select their favorite documentary and fictional/Hollywood films. Here’s what Kevin and Gerald said. BYO popcorn.
Kevin Clement’s recommendations
Favorite Hollywood Movie: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
At once a ripping outdoor adventure yarn, an engrossing character study, and a modern parable for the ages, this is about as close as you can come to a perfect movie. Starring Humphrey Bogart, in one of his late-career deep-dives as an actor, as a strong man driven to destruction by his greed for gold. Directed by John Huston, at the top of his form, who also has a role and whose father stars opposite Bogart (and won an Oscar). The film is so lean and spare that there is nothing that could be cut from it, but it still has time for revealing and colorful little vignettes. And who could help loving a movie that gave us the (paraphrased) line “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.”
Best Documentary: Ken Burns’ National Parks: America’s Best Idea Our Planet
Everyone knows the Ken Burns Style, which is so distinctive that I have a button in my video editing program called that. When he turned his cameras out into the wild beauty of America, the result was spectacular and deeply moving.
To someone like me who has spent his life living, working, and recreating in Parks, it was also highly emotional. Before the series debuted on PBS, as a kind of thank-you, Burns sent copies of it to the Parks that had allowed him access for filming. In Denali, where I was living, the DVDs arrived in the dead of winter. The temperature was far below zero, the darkness was perpetual, and there were no visitors…but the few of us who were on site gathered every night in the closed Visitor Center to view the next episode on the big screen there.
It’s hard to describe how much that experience meant to that group of people, who had given their lives to protecting the very resource that shone forth in the images on the screen. It was such a confirmation and a celebration of their work. At the end of each installment, there was seldom a dry eye in the crowd. I will never forget it.
Gerald Broddelez’s recommendations
Favorite Movie: Legends of the Fall
Not many movies have ever moved me in the way that this one has. The cinematography in Montana reminded me of a family trip I did there many years ago visiting the many National Parks in the Calgary and Banff areas. The landscapes and vast expanses of the untamed American West are breathtaking, the music by James Horner is brilliant, the acting is magnificent, the love and emotions between the father and his sons so deep, it’s hard to put into words. Tristan (Brad Pitt) is a legend in one of my all time favorite films. Although the film contains many beautiful action scenes, there’s little doubt that the most breathtaking sequence is the scene when Tristan at age 12 touches a sleeping Grizzly Bear. The bear awakens and injures him, but he stabs at the bear’s paw and cuts off a claw causing it to run away!
Finally, in the last scene on the film, the bear attacks Tristan, an old man now. As they struggle, the image freeze-frames as One Stab narrates, “It was a good death”!
Note: A lot of animals were included in the movie, but it’s important to know that the Calgary Humane Society was on set the whole time and no animals were harmed.
Best Natural History Film: David Attenborough’s Our Planet
For nearly as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by birds where the males with their brilliant plumages try to lure females into mating by performing elaborate visual displays. So when I had the chance to travel to Irian Jaya, Indonesia, a few years ago, it was a child’s dream come true. We saw many Birds of Paradise displaying including the mythical Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. But for me, the first prize went to the Western Parotia or tutu bird! When the male arrived at its display court it cleared a small area of forest floor—it must be meticulously tidy before it will start its incredible performance. All this time, the male was watched by a female perched on one of the vines above the court. The whole dancing is out of this World, but the best bit is where he adopts the ballerina pose and starts shaking his head, with its six erected wire feathers, vigorously in a snake-like manner, before dancing sideways, backward or in a semicircle, lowering the forward edge of the skirt in a bow-like posture. Watching it perform its ballerina like dance just a couple of meters away from inside a tiny soggy hide was one of the birding highlights of my life! In the Netflix’s series Our Planet, David Attenborough talks us through an adorable bird’s dance to impress a female—a mating dance that puts Strictly Come Dancing stars to shame.