film is beautifully relevant
By Pat Christian
Provo Canyon resident Robert Redford has produced a
documentary film about Yosemite National Park and where it may be headed.
Yosemite, the Fate
of Heaven is unsullied
warning us that Yosemite is no longer the pristine heavenly place
it was when
the Europeans entered in pursuit of Native Americans.
Instead it is increasingly being spoiled by
the love too many visitors have for it.
Sundance Institute Film, it was
previewed recently in San Francisco and again last week at the Mountain
Summit Conference at Snowbird Ski
Redford is executive
producer and also its soft-spoken narrator.
Jon Else is
director and its cinematographer.
film holds serenity and beauty for the
eye and the ear and important questions for the mind. Its story begins
1850s with dialogue from the diary of a horse soldier from the Mariposa
Battalion who entered The Yosemite Valley to capture Chief Tenaya. There were reports that the chief and his band
had raided settlers along the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevadas.
soldier’s diary entry describes his
emotional first view of Yosemite:
traveled three days through heavy snow
in our search for Indians when suddenly we came into view of the
grandeur of the scene was softened by haze in the valley…and by big
on the high cliffs. My astonishment was
overpowering. My eyes welled up with
tears as I sensed my own inferiority.
Here before me was the power and glory of the
Native Americans are eventually
removed from their pastoral paradise, and then quite drastically the
to a cacophony of thousands of park visitors being moved though the
national park. Tons of park garbage is
shown being managed by man and his violent machines and park workers
much garbage they handle everyday.
park officials seem to want to still
find ways to increase visitation even more.
There is even one suggestion to look at a
cooperative marketing campaign
with southern California theme parks like Disneyland in order increase visitation even more.
film reveals a park management side of
Yosemite rivaling the complexity a small city or
that John Muir could have never envisioned nor accepted.
It lays open the ironic that threatens the
park. Everyone loves Yosemite—so much in fact, they are loving to death. Thus the masses of visitors cause long waiting
lines for campsites, traffic jams that steal away the serenity that
first visitors who came on horseback.
earlier horse soldiers finally burned
the Indian’s shelters and destroyed their winter food caches. Those
residents were banished from the pristine valley and a park industry
philosophy of industrial tourism where
more in better as far as visitors are concerned is challenged by the
film that examines
the conflicts between park preservation and usage that might be as
the chambered nautilus.
modern human who has visited Yosemite has seen it as Chief Tenaya or even the
horseback visitors saw it. But the
Sundance Institute film does offer us an illusion of how it was before.
old naturalist at Yosemite is a luminary voice throughout the film.
It’s clear he loves the park
the way Muir loved it, tenderly, understanding its vulnerabilities. The old naturalist’s is a nourishing love
markedly different than some other park employees who seem to think a
successful year is a year with even more people and even more visitor
love it so they destroy it a bit,” Yosemite’s postmaster said.
trail worker Jim Snyder advised
the film crew, “It’s not nice to mess with mother nature.”
the old naturalist asked, “can we
bring back pristine conditions?”
The well-spoken, well-imaged message of Redford’s new film seems to say, we should
reverse the present trend and try.
version of this review appeared in The
Daily Herald, Provo, Utah)>