Burns' Yosemite Documentary

April 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Yosemite National Park plays a starring role in a new documentary by one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in the world.Friday during a screening in Yosemite, Ken Burns provided a sneak peak at his film that will air on PBS. The sights here in Yosemite are of course spectacular, but it's the history of this national park and others that inspired Ken Burns to create what he calls his best work.

Filmmaker Ken Burns returned to Yosemite Friday morning to share a piece of his new documentary that. "It's a history of the ideas and individuals that made this uniquely American thing happen. For the first time in history land was set aside, not for kings or noblemen or the very rich, but for everybody for all time, we invented it. We need national parks so people can go there and say, ahh, this is America."

The 12 hour documentary, entitled, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" traces the nearly 150 year evolution of the park system.

Mike Tollefson, former Yosemite superintendent said, "Many people don't realize that during the Civil War, Lincoln set Yosemite aside for the people of the nation, and while Yellowstone people call it the first national park, it really is Yosemite where the idea started."

The film features historical accounts of the people who helped promote and preserve our nation's parks, as well as modern day stories of people like Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson who grew up in Detroit thinking such pristine places were out of reach.

Shelton Johnson, a Yosemite park ranger said, "This film will probably be the definitive statement in film for a long time on the idea of national parks."

Park officials hope the series will increase visitorship and donations. And Burns hopes it will remind people of the simple joys America has to offer.

Burns added, "I've made films on the Civil War and the Second World War that have made people weep, but we've had more tears out of this film just in remembering oh yeah, my dad took me, or my mom took me, and you get this amazing sense of kinship."

Burns said he visited 53 of the 58 national parks featured in his film, but it was Yosemite that made his jaw drop for the first time.

The six part documentary debuts on September 27th.

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