Friday Double Feature: What Is Paradise? Or As I Like To Say: Wherever You Go There You Are

February 13, 2015

Again, I've gone over the limit—instead of a double feature I'm recommending a triple feature (with even another add-on). I couldn't help myself. There are so many movies I could have included in my theme for today:

What Is Paradise? Or As I Like To Say: Wherever You Go There You Are

I could have included any of the versions of "Robinson Crusoe." I think "Swiss Family Robinson" is an interesting Disney artifact. "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" is a particular childhood favorite of mine. (From this movie I learned the very useful survival tip: Never drink your own urine as it's too salty. [There's no two ways about it, I had a very interesting childhood.])  

OK, I see what I just did; next week you can watch the Robinson Triple Feature.

And while we are on the theme of "castaways" whatever you do, don't take your mother to see "The Savage Is Loose" starring George C.Scott. She might just freak out. I don't know why we ended up at that film at the multiplex in the first place, but it was not a comfortable evening for Foo-foo, who couldn't even bring herself to have "the talk" with me when I was younger. Talk about a silent ride home!

In the meantime I recommend the following three films for today's topic (and I recommend you watch them in this order for reasons that will become IMMEDIATELY obvious to you when you finish your evening):

Grizzly Man, dir. Werner Herzog. This documentary is about Timothy Treadwell, a grizzly bear activist who went off to Alaska to live among the bears. I think it's a very interesting film that reminds us to take Nature (initial cap is intentional) very seriously, not trust too strongly in the lovely Android phone commercials that show a grizzly nuzzling with a tiger happily, and to remember that while we think we are one thing we might really be another thing entirely. (Take it from me, I know I talk a lot about "my ninja moves" but I know I am not really a ninja!) I caught this film on Discovery or some other cable station some time ago.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, dirs. Daniel Geller, Dayna Goldfine… A doctor and his wife (who has early stage MS) go off to live on an uninhabited island in the Galapagos. Their endeavor to live off the beaten path becomes news in Europe. Too soon other folks, with their own goals and expectations, show up. Then some more arrive. And well the movie will fill you in. I caught this recently on Netflix.

Alone in the Wilderness, filmed by Dick Proenneke This is an amazing story about a man who went to Alaska in the 1960s and built a cabin on his own. He filmed the process and set up the camera to film himself while he did this. He was a resilient and resourceful man who made many of his own tools. It's also obvious he cared about what he was doing and took care doing it. He returned to Iowa during the winter, but the next spring when he returned he settled in for the next 30 years. I saw this several years ago on PBS; you can purchase it at the site linked.

Additional recommendations and SPOILER ALERT so don't read beyond here if you don't want to know what happens in the next movie I mention:

1.Don't break out the popcorn until you get to feature number 3.

2. If you're still in the mood to watch movies on this theme check out Into the Wild, a film about Christopher McCandless, who hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness. (Dir. Sean Penn.) While McCandless dies in the wild new evidence shows that his death was not due to something he messed up, but bad advice in a guide book about edible plants.  Following our hearts can be full of peril, but necessary even so.

  1. Reply

    Roz, interresting choice of movies. Prior of living in Tacoma, WA, I lived for 15 yeas in Eagle River, AK just north of Anchorage. The beauty of the place doesn’t compare to anything but you are facing daily the danger of the wilderness bringing you back to your primal instinct of survival. A bit more preparation when you are living the safety of your house than just locking the door. It was extreme but amazing at the same time,strangely enough a part of me misses both sides of that life. Oh and yeah the idea of Paradise and hell can be experienced before death suppose. Did you sketch watching those movies?

  2. Reply


    This is a bit off topic but I saw these dogs and thought you might want to see them. I really liked how the artist dogs were “professionals” while all the other dogs were “amateurs”.

  3. Reply

    Thanks Claudia for sending the link. A blog reader told me about his work in 2010 and I ordered several books of his and I love them. It is good to look at them every now and then. Another friend wrote recently to tell me Gurney had written about them and I got the books out again to look at them. They are fantastic.

    I recommend you seek out the books.

    I think that’s very funny about “professionals” and “amateurs.” We had the same sort of distinction here for years while the girls were alive.

    Thanks for writing.

  4. Reply

    Roxane your experience makes you familiar with all this. I am constantly amazed at people who build backed up to wilderness and then complain when bears and such come down to investigate and worse. And yes, you have to do more than just lock the door!

    I don’t think it’s strange you miss it at all. It must have been wonderful to live with all the beauty of nature.

    Nope, I didn’t sketch while watching any of these movies. Grizzly man was too depressing in many ways, and not clear views. Galapagos was interesting and I was very sick at the time and drew Dick before watching it. So my ration of drawing while ill was taken care of. And the Alone in the wilderness was simply riveting.

    I find that most of the movies I am recommending in this series of posts are movies I haven’t sketched during. I don’t think it means that these are necessarily more interesting, but it might mean I was watching them with Dick and then it would be rude if I wanted to rewind or even stop for a few minutes.

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