11/22/2017  
Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...





Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

PBS Home Video presents
Ansel Adams (2002)

"If I felt something strongly, I would make a photograph that was the equivalent of what I thought and felt."
- Ansel Adams

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: February 03, 2003

Stars: Ansel Adams, John Szarkowski, Carl Pope, Jonathan Spaulding, Anne Adams Helms, Michael Adams
Other Stars: David Ogden Stiers, Josh Hamilton, Barbara Feldon, Eli Wallach
Director: Ric Burns

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:38m:31s
Release Date: January 14, 2003
UPC: 794054870220
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-A-B+ D+

DVD Review

The photographs are so beautiful, so iconic, that it's hard to conjure up images of the American West that don't bear the imprint of the work of Ansel Adams. And his oeuvre has been so popularized—greeting cards, calendars, dorm room posters—that it's easy to lose sight of Adams' aesthetic and technical accomplishments. But he was far more than someone who made pretty pictures of mountains, and Ric Burns' fine documentary, now on DVD as part of PBS's American Experience series, is an opportunity to revisit some of Adams' work, and to situate him more solidly in his time and place.

The filmmaking style is pretty straightforward—interviews with Adams' children, friends and colleagues, archival footage of Ansel at work and at play, actors reading from his letters, all yoked together by an informative narration track supplied by David Ogden Stiers. Adams was born in San Francisco in 1902, and one of the recurring tensions of his life was between city and country, between San Francisco and Yosemite. Similarly, he was a gifted pianist, and he wrestled between music and photography—the solitary art of taking pictures won out, as did the pull of the wilderness over the temptations of the big city. (His father gave him a Kodak Brownie for the family's inaugural trip to Yosemite, and the history of photography became that much richer.) Appropriately enough, he met his wife and was married in Yosemite, the place that enchanted him even before his first visit there, in 1916, until his death in 1984.

What's striking about Adams' craft is how resolutely modern he was—the popular trends in photography had been toward a sort of artiness, emphasizing soft focus, making the images almost gauzy. But Adams' crystalline prints were something else entirely, emphasizing the clarity, the particularity, the evanescence in capturing actual objects in actual time. He wanted, as he said, "to make a mountain look how it feels." But he was more than merely a nature documentarian—though he wasn't a churchgoer, there was, as is discussed in the film, a "quasi-religious sense of identification with landscape."

Ansel apparently always felt a little hinky when he got east of the Rockies, but his trips frequently proved fruitful—in 1933, he traveled to New York for an audience with photographic master Alfred Stieglitz, who looked at Adams' portfolio and declared, "These are some of the finest photographs I have ever seen." What's especially notable (from, for instance, footage of Adams' solo exhibition at Stieglitz's gallery) is the small size of Adams' prints, these almost delicate images of the great granite mountains of the west—if you're used to seeing Adams' pictures in great oversized reproductions available for framing from museum shops, it's a little startling to see the pictures just as they had come from the photographer's darkroom.

Adams' most fruitful artistic period coincided with the Great Depression, which established a tension between him and others in the photographic community—the champions of the likes of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans displayed a certain disdain for Adams, who, as the country wrestled with economic calamity, was shooting rocks and trees. But Adams was resolute about his artistic vision, and felt, rightly, that his aesthetic contributions were resolutely American, in the best sense.

Financially, the wolf was at the door for Adams until very late in life, when, as his artistic output was dwindling, savvy marketers saw the licensing possibilities in his decades of work. He became an avuncular popular figure, a cross between "one's favorite uncle and Smokey the Bear," on the cover of Time and profiled on 60 Minutes, America's most prominent spokesman for both photography and environmentalism. The profile of the man here is unsparing without being unseemly—there's candid talk about the occasional rocky times in Adams' marriage, for instance, and early in his life especially, Adams seemed more than a little unstable. He described having fits of uncontrollable weeping, and surmised that had he been born when his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were, he might have been diagnosed as dyslexic, or with ADD. (It's perilous at very best to draw psychological conclusions about someone based on a two-hour documentary, but given the evidence presented here, much of Adams' behavior fits precisely under the category of manic depression—weeks of drunken partying, for instance, followed by weeks of cold stony silence alone in Yosemite.)

But for those of us who didn't know him, of course, what matters more than the artist is the art, and Adams' legacy remains a substantial one. That, twinned with his devotion to the Sierra Club and environmentalism, make him a worthy subject for this well-crafted documentary.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: As is fitting for a film about an artist with Adams' precision, the DVD transfer is crisp and largely free of interference or debris. Adams' photographs are shown off to good advantage, and the recent interview footage is shot warmly and with subtlety.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Stiers' narration track occasionally sounds rather too loud, which makes this classically PBS voice-of-God narrator seem like an angry god. Also, the accompanying musical score is nice, but there's a little too much of it for my taste.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The disc offers links to various websites—one for this film (which promises info on, among other things, how Adams' view camera works), another for The American Experience, and still another for PBS. Those and chapter stops are the only extras.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

A stately look at one of the most accomplished and renowned American photographers, Ansel Adams will bring you closer both to the man and the work, a formidable and worthy accomplishment for any documentary.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store