In an age where constructing papier-maché caricatures of world leaders is considered activism, it’s revealing to see a documentary where an idealist actually engages government and effects positive change. With his silver hair and tongue, David Brower (mountain climber, WW II vet, pal of Ansel Adams) becomes executive director of the Sierra
Club and expands it into a major lobbying force, even- tually pushing through the 1964 Wilderness Act. He used photography to cajole reluctant government types, as well as to preserve a memory of what he could not physically save. The film is made up of these sumptuously weathered 16mm home movies (from 1930 to 1970) of his various expeditions to the American West. But instead of the affectless soundtrack of mopey indie rock, a trip through the Anthology of American Folk Music would have better served the landscape.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 12, 2005