Ric Burns's documentary for the American Experience
series winningly persuades one to think of Ansel Adams as not only the greatest American photographer of the 20th century, but also one of its most treasured artists. Using the familiar formula of New York
(and his brother Ken's documentaries), Burns vividly brings Adams's world to life. Narrator David Ogden Stiers is used minimally after the initial set-up, leaving the words to curators, authors, and family members who knew Adams's life and art best (Adams's own letters are also voiced). The film, sponsored by the Sierra Club to mark the 100th anniversary of the photographer's birth, makes a passionate plea for this man "who helped transfer the meaning of wilderness and what people thought about it." There is plenty of time for his magnificent pictures to be shown, often nicely accompanied by modern-day color films of the area. It's a must-see for any fan of Adams. --Doug Thomas
Written, directed and produced by Ric Burns and timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ansel Adams's birth, Ansel Adams is an elegant, moving and lyrical portrait of one of the most eloquent and quintessentially American photographers. At the heart of the film are the themes that absorbed Adams throughout his career: the beauty and fragility of "the American earth," the inseparable bond between man and nature and the moral obligations that the present owes to the future. Ansel Adams was co-produced by the Sierra Club and attracted 5 million broadcast viewers upon its initial airing on PBS.