Documentary Film Review: 'John Muir in the New World'

“Everybody needs beauty, as well as bread. Places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike,” said John Muir, famed naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club.
A new American Masters documentary, John Muir in the New World, explores his adventures and achievements, from his childhood in Wisconsin to a 1,000-mile journey on foot from Indiana to Florida to his successful effort to have Yosemite declared a national park. The film tells Muir’s story through a mix of historical footage, reenactments in breathtaking landscapes like Yosemite and the Sierrra Nevada, and interviews with experts including Donald Worster, the American historian who chronicled Muir’s life in A Passion for Nature, and the Sierra Club's Allison Chin. 

John Muir (portrayed by Howard Weamer) in Yosemite. Photo by Bob Roney/Copyright Global Village Media
Muir was an early and effective advocate of preserving wild places—something that still resonates today. April 21 marks what would have been the renowned conservationist’s 173rd birthday.
The 90-minute film premieres tonight on PBS at 9 p.m. ET (click here to check local listings).

Related stories:

Cry for Joy: This photo essay features some of the magnicent plant specimens collected by Muir and compiled in Nature’s Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir’s Botanical Legacy.

Force for Nature: Frank Graham review’s Donald Worster’s A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir.

Following Muir’s Footseps: Alex McInturff, an Alabama native, was an undergraduate student at Stanford University with limited outdoor experience. But a chance introduction to the writings of John Muir steered his interests toward conservation research, culminating in a solo, month-long adventure that he took this past spring to retrace the famed naturalist’s 1868 trek from San Francisco to Yosemite.

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