Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Educational, Documentary
National Geographic goes beyond the tourist hotspots and travels deep inside the 2 million acre national park to reveal the backcountry wilderness few have seen. Explore some of the 300 newly discovered waterfalls most tou... more »
Similarly Requested DVDs
Yellowstone ala the Matrix
Eclectic Amazonian | Arizona, USA | 08/13/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The subtitle of Secret Yellowstone is "Explore beyond the Tourist Hotspots", and the product description says "travels deep inside the 2 million acre national park to reveal the backcountry wilderness few have seen". That led me to believe that we might actually get to see and know some of that backcountry, to get a tour of the parts of the park that most don't see.
Instead, this slick production gives the viewer a 'Matrix-style' view of the park where the average camera shot is less than 2 seconds long, and dizzying transitions and shifts in point-of-view and film speed make it impossible to actually take in any of the scenery or detail. During the opening 10 minutes I literally felt sick from the rapid transitions and editing, and almost turned it off. Fortunately, the pace slows a little during the sections on wildfire and wildife, but only a little.
The film really has very little to do with the description, which as an example says "Explore some of the 300 newly discovered waterfalls most tourists never get to see." Do we actually get to explore some of these waterfalls? If you call viewing a few still photographs for around 2 seconds each exploring, then yes. There is one scene of falls from a high-altitude helicopter that lasts longer, unfortunately there's a blurry reflection on the window right where the falls is, and the perspective is such that there is no indication of height or distance or scale, and the omnipresent speed-changing, special effects transitions interrupt the view every few seconds.
The film is essentially about 4 topics (I wouldn't have known, except they say so near the end): water, geology, wildlife, and wildfire. But those topics are not unique to the backcountry, and they are not 'secret'. Even the heavily traveled tourist areas expose these features to a visitor. Unfortunately, the narration on these topics is no better than the video. It is at times overly dramatic, and always just skims the surface of the topics. The only new thing I learned about Yellowstone was that there is enough magma underneath the park to fill 3 Lake Michigans. There is no real information presented, such as just how much magma that is, or how deep it extends, or how much outside the park's boundaries it extends, or how near the suface it is, or when geologists expect the next eruption, or etc. etc. etc. Instead near the end of the show, a 3D CGI is displayed (in motion of course) showing a mass of magma under the park. Yes, it's big. I guess that's all I need to know.
There are a few highlights on the video - mostly short segments with the people who know the park, such as the head of the wolf recovery program who investigates why a wolf pack was able to down a bison in only 12 minutes instead of the usual hours. Another segment has some regular hikers recalling an encounter with a grizzly bear, and another deals with firefighting in the back county, but the rangers and firefighters are only allowed to get a few sentences out before the editors put us back on the disjointed roller coaster.
The DVD includes a special feature - an interactive map of Yellowstone which uses the N.G. Topo! map engine, which at first appears like a great bonus since the product is also sold separately. There are four levels of maps - a state map, a park map, a topographic map, and a 3-D map. Unfortunately only the first 3 appear to be functional - whenever I select the 3D map (using a new Windows XP machine with 2GB of memory and a fast processor), the program aborts. I'd guess the 3D data was not included with the video. It's too bad - that might have been a viable way to explore the back country.
I had really hoped to find out more about the back country from this film -what the geology is in the different parts of the park, what trails are available, what sights there are to see. There are some computer graphics that are displayed for a few seconds that might have been useful if they were captioned, or left on screen long enough to actually view and were discussed in some detail, but the narrator barely mentions them. For instance one graphic (also in motion) shows the network of trails in the park for a few seconds and the narrator says how many miles of trails there are, but then we're off to the races again.
National Geographic used to make intelligent, quality nature films, with spectacular photography and in-depth commentary. This film has neither of those. Whatever good photography that might be there is spoiled by the special effects. The worst part is that the film's production style makes it impossible to get the feel of the park, and that is what most armchair travelers are looking for. The style of the production is the antithesis of what the park is about, and what anyone would experience in person. Instead of vast vistas, intimate views of nature, and serene exploration, the film is a frenetic disjointed roller coaster of fast motion, slow motion, freeze frame, and special effects that make it impossible to actually comprehend what we are seeing. I suppose that's what the filmmakers intended - to emphasize the underlying potential danger of Yellowstone instead of the usual qualities of beauty and wonder. Maybe they think that's the Secret Yellowstone that tourists don't get to see: a fast moving dangerous land of fire and vicious animals, poisonous fumes and impending doom. Yes, Yellowstone (or any wild area) can certainly be dangerous, but that's no secret, and it's not what I expected from the description. And it's not the feeling I get when actually visiting the park.
Very disappointing, and not recommended.
Nothing Surprising in Video
Paperback Junkie | Columbus, OH | 07/23/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Given the title of Secret Yellowstone, I was hopeful that it might show portions of the park not typically visited by the public. This was the typical show on Yellowstone with coverage of the wolves, bears and geysers and an emphasis on the volcanic activity. Very nice photography, but I was anticipating a more in depth show."
Make sure you like the topics of this film
I. Chiang | Silicon Valley, CA, USA | 07/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the subtitle of the cover has suggested: Explore beyond the Tourist Hotspots, this film is not a tour guide for Yellowstone NP. Although some famous scenes, such as Old Faithful, are shown, they are in a rather fast forward version. There are two main topics in this film. One is about the forest fire and the other is about the wildlife.
Most forest fires are caused by lightning. Conventionally, people tried to extinguish there forest fires once they were found burning. Recent attempts just let it burn, as long as there is no immediate threat to human lives, since it is just a step of the balance of the ecosystem. It will rehabilitate later by itself.
The other topic is about the wildlife. At first, it reveals an experience by two explorers when they encountered a grizzly. They pretended dead by lying down to avoid the grizzly attack. They didn't do it good enough so that this grizzly still came and attacked on them. They finally escaped by the bear spray (why didn't I hear about this stuff when I was in a national park? I encountered a black bear......while in a car) they carried.
Another animal is about the bison. Don't be close to or even touch them. A man was hit into the sky and then fell off as the film shows. It's really dangerous. In addition, wolves were introduced on purpose to pray the bison for achieving the balance of the nature. Interestingly, when a bison is attacked by a pack of wolves, it is safer for this bison to stand rather than run.
It's refreshing after I've finished this film. I am, however, not sure if most people are satisfied with these two topics. Initially, I expect to see more about the magma, lava or volcano stuff but find this is only covered with little time. In addition to this, the quality of screen shots is good. Some may be intended for the purpose of the IMAX theater. This will be a bonus if you have a home theater kind of TV.