Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Nature > Political > Monumental - David Brower's Fight For Wild America

Monumental – David Brower’s Fight For Wild America



Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Documentary: B



There is an ugly thing that has happened to the Environment and it is a situation that is getting worse.  Corporations and governments have come together like never before to dismantle law and regulations to sell off bits and pieces, no matter how many lands or species are destroyed forever.  If you can makes thousands of dollars on pennies of investment, you are celebrated, instead of even remotely being accused of raping and pillaging national resources.  If you say this, you are a “tree hugger” and/or a Communist/Socialist radical.  Since the 1980s, liking nature when you are supposed to only like going to the mall has become the thing.  Anyone who has empathy for nature and animals has been stigmatized as weak and their opinions marginalized.  That is why Kelly Duane’s Monumental (2004) is so interesting and key.


The program shows how David Brower was the unrecognized forerunner of the environmental movements up to this day, founding several organizations including The Sierra Club with the aim of preserving national resources and making sure they do not become just another piece of land to just mow over and plaster at will.  Malls did not exist when Brower began, but the mentality that makes them possible has overtaken the media and urban sprawl is too common.  What made America so unique in its ability to change has been constipated and clogged by chains that guarantee the same repetition of often junk stores all over the country and world, versus the many mom and pop places that made the country great to begin with.


No matter where you go, like an Orwellian nightmare, you find then same places with the same product and designs.  That is fine if you want to shop, but being a consumer is not living, just consuming and Brower understood more deeply than anyone the dangers of the natural being treated as unnatural and the unnatural becoming the norm.  Legislation since the 1980s and especially since 2000 has sped up the “progress” of plasticity like a plague.  9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have reminded us that nature is still nature, and the mentality that allowed both to happen and the latter to be even worse than it needed to be comes from the complacency and pacification of any movement to protect nature.  Sure, there are some Communist/Socialist radicals who want to use it as an excuse to kill private ownership rights, but in the mountains and wild?  Is everyone such a person who is adult, mature, intelligent and healthy enough to know nature as nature?


After Katrina, an incident the film misses by a year, more people are starting to wonder what has gone wrong.  Why would an area used to storms suddenly have more damage, suffering and death than it should have?  Well, on top of carelessness and ignorance against those who have so little, the neglect of physical structures (dams, levies, bridges and the like) have been purposely underfunded as badly as the resources to preserve the wild and a natural disaster becomes magnified by man-made ones.  Though he was accused of many bad things, Lyndon Johnson is here showing his support of programs to protect nature and his wife Ladybird turns out to have been a larger advocate than anyone even hints at today.  Obviously, the big media is purposely censoring this fact as except for Hillary Clinton, no First Lady has been so proactively out in the field (literally in this case) as Ladybird was.  That this happened in the 1960s as LBJ was burying The Great Society (more of a success than Neo-Conservatives are willing to admit) under Vietnam, something Richard Nixon did an even better job of, reminds us that government policy to protect the wild was working well and the country (along with its savings and loans system and pension plans) were not begin gutted and whored out to special interests that can be considered traitorous to this very country.  Monumental lives up to its name by exposing basic truths the media is rabidly censoring.  How much more will be destroyed before people wise up?


The 1.33 x 1 full frame image is varied because some of the older film footage is either aged or even starting to go.  I hope Brower’s estate and those who hold the rights to this footage will put out some money to have it restored and preserved as a tribute top the nature it catches so well in film and digital HD, which extends to the two short films included as extras.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is simple stereo at best, though many of the clips are old monophonic sound.  Extras include Brower’s short films Two Yosemities and Shiprock, both with sound, but the latter oddly having no music or dialogue.  Why waste the time and money transferring a noisy soundtrack with nothing on it?  Why not add new music or an informative commentary?  You also get trailers for other First Run DVDs, text biographies, text about the music used in the feature, and two new interviews.  One is with the director herself, the other with former Secretary Of The Interior Stewart Udall.  If this does not separate conservationists from conservatives for people, nothing will.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com