An ongoing series of award-winning primetime specials examining the lives, works, and creative processes of our most outstanding cultural artists. Created in 1984, the series is both a celebration and an exploration of creativity in America, documenting the role important individuals, groups, and movements have played in the formation of our cultural identity.
John Muir in the New World (#2402H) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO TVG
Nearly a century after his death, John Muir is remembered and revered as the father of the environmental movement, the father of conservation, and the founder of the Sierra Club. It was this Scottish-American who believed it was our responsibility as citizens to care for and protect our natural surroundings. He taught us by example and passion - through his actions, his writings, his art - how to do so. Through his tireless advocacy, he almost single-handedly saved the Yosemite Valley of California from destruction and was the force behind the creation of the National Parks Service. Filmed throughout the majestic, breathtaking landscapes and wilderness traveled by Muir those many years ago, this documentary places our nation's most important asset in a cultural and social context. Muir's story could not be a more timely reminder of America's unique and, ultimately, threatened eco-system.
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A Fierce Green Fire (#2701H) Duration: 56:26 SRND51 TVPG-V
This film is an exploration of the environmental movement - grassroots and global activism spanning 50 years from conservation to climate change. Inspired by the book of the same name by Philip Shabecoff and informed by advisors like Edward O. Wilson, this documentary chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st. It brings together all the major parts of environmentalism and connects them. It focuses on activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, the future - and succeeding against all odds. The film is directed and written by Mark Kitchell, Academy Award-nominated director of Berkeley in the Sixties, and narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep.
Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler (#2802) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Discover the mysterious violin virtuoso through Itzhak Perlman, students, archival performances and home movies. His story embodies the paradox of artistic genius: how a mortal man lives with immortal gifts, honored at a lifelong price.
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James Levine: America's Maestro (#2403) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVG (Secondary audio: none)
To celebrate his 40th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera in 2011, conductor James Levine's life and current work were the subject of this documentary, which captures the essence of his unparalleled musicianship and his singular teaching and performance style, while looking back at creative milestones since his Met debut in 1971 at the age of 28.
Over the course of a year, filmmaker Susan Froemke followed Levine. Included in the film are intimate scenes between the maestro and longtime collaborator Placido Domingo as they rehearse Verdi's Simon Boccanegra; intense rehearsals with the Met Orchestra as they prepare for their first performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony at Carnegie Hall; and Levine's poignant coaching sessions with aspiring young singers preparing to launch their careers. The film provides a revealing portrait of one of classical music's giants, exploring how Levine transformed the Met's orchestra into one of the great ensembles, elicited legendary performances from leading singers, and nurtured new generations of artists.
Marilyn Monroe: Still Life (#1904L) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-S
There are the movie roles, but it is the still images - the iconic face, expressions and poses - that make up our collective memory of Marilyn. She was, arguably, the most photographed person ever. Her relationship with the camera produced an enduring body of work that still dazzles and moves us, evoking both desire and pathos. These photographs are an ageless testament to her grace, guts and sexiness - her humor and vulnerability. She understood their power, and she exploited it. She created, and curated, her own image - lips puckered to the lens, inviting us to kiss her back. She would be 80 now. She died more than 40 years ago. We look back through Norman Mailer, Gloria Steinem and Hugh Heffner, as Marilyn persists in her image.
Judy Garland: By Myself (#1704) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Judy Garland had one of the most photographed faces ever to come out of Hollywood - it is stamped as a virtual imprint on our imaginations, a celluloid image frozen in time. She also had one of the most frequently recorded voices of the last century. She was magic, almost mythical. She is as iconic as she is misunderstood. There were her problems, to be sure, but the proof is in the performances, from The Wizard of Oz to the Palladium, from the Oscars to the Grammies. With singular entree to the MGM library, including vaulted screen tests and rehearsal footage, the film is wrapped in Judy's voice, actually telling her story in her own words. So many outsiders have tried to tell this story and so many friends and family have weighed in - now Judy gets center stage, all to herself. This is her ultimate comeback.
American Ballet Theatre: A History (#2803H) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO TVG
Delve into the rich, 75-year history of one of the world's pre-eminent ballet companies. Ric Burns' documentary combines intimate rehearsal footage, virtuoso performances and interviews with American Ballet Theatre's key figures: artists pivotal to the company's formation, including Alicia Alonso and the late Donald Saddler and Frederic Franklin; contemporary luminaries, including dancers Susan Jaffe and Julie Kent, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and artistic director Kevin McKenzie; past and present stars Misty Copeland, Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes and Hee Seo.