"Christmas in Yellowstone"


One of the most soothing voices on the planet belongs to Linda Hunt. I know she's just a wee little thing and I'd have to stoop to kiss her forehead, but her voice conveys more intelligence, depth, and compassion than a Christmas elf on rollerskates.

And when I say that I actually want you to picture Morgan Freeman offering you a slice of pumpkin pie.

PBS's "Christmas in Yellowstone" has neither giddy elves nor handsome actors, just Linda Hunt and her precise, humane narration underscoring the perfect cinematography that Nature is known for.

I grew up outside of Denver so I know from snow, but my young son is being raised in southern California and I would not be exaggerating when I tell you that his jaw dropped and then remained on the floor throughout the opening scenes of this show. When he wasn't laughing with delight at a fox stalking voles and leaping like a kitten on a hot plate, he was transfixed by images of ice-encrusted bison creaking across a forest service road; an injured otter trying keep up with his family; wolves; coyotes; swans; grizzlies; and pine trees lit up and iced like snowy Christmas cakes.

So was I. Lit, I mean. Ha ha! No! I mean transfixed.

Then came the inevitable (boring!) people parts. "When are they going to show more animals?" he demanded as a wildlife photographer struggled through hip-deep snow carrying a hundred pounds of camera gear. "Is that otter going to find his family again?" he worried as a rugged cross-country skier shook the snow off his tarp and climbed out of his sleeping bag wearing little more than a t-shirt. "Can I have a popsicle," he finally sighed as a people wearing festive sweaters sang Christmas carols inside a ski lodge. "Banana or lime, I don't care."

You'll be happy to know that the otter found his family again, the grizzly bear had her cubs (offscreen), and a bunch of other animals probably didn't make it through to see spring. But we were spared that. When it's Christmas in Yellowstone, the air sparkles, the animals endure, and Linda Hunt helps to wrap us in a cozy blanket of popsicles (lime) and eggnog.


The Year of Living Dangerously, that's the Linda Hunt I think of. Playing a man, opposite Mel Gibson (in the days when he was still on the right side of the battle). Dying, I think (or maybe not, it was a long time ago). Definitely not elfish.

I have commented to my husband more than once that Linda Hunt's thinking-out-loud dialog in "Dune" would be a perfect remedy for insomnia. So I understand exactly what you mean.

I'm not much for nature shows, but this sounds lovely.

M. Kennedy--I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Linda Hunt's voiceover genius. She does lots of ads, too, and I almost always want to buy what she's selling, so smart and nuanced are her narrations.
Your descriptive powers have got me feverishly searching for a re-broadcast of Nature's Christmas in Yellowstone and I will try to nab a child or two to watch it with me (in lieu of another trip down Fairytopia or Pokeman-lane). Thanks for the tip. LW

Hey, I LIVE on Pokemon Lane, come on down sometime, Les.

I believe it's the phrase "precise, human narration" that sold me here. To boot, I can actually hear that voice in my head right now. She's unique in that way and it's always a pleasure to see her or hear her voice pop up in some commercial.

Soothing to say the least.

Since I have to make a schedule (yes, a schedule) to watch television, this is going on the list. Can't wait. Excellent piece.

And now... I really want to see snow.

I wish to get the video but the information as to how to send for it flashed across the screen too fast for me to get it noted. Please inform. Thanks M.B.

The voice was lovely - the scenery and animals even lovelier. But what is the name of the lodge where we saw people singing?

What a gorgeous documentary. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that much of it brought tears to my eyes, but I imagine I'm not alone in that regard.

I, too, would like to know how could have a Christmas in Yellowstone. Wolf watching would be an incredible experience. Please advise,,,,,,,,,

I have watched "Nature" for years, but I have never seen an installment as enthralling as this. The text, the narration, and the photography was a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving gift. A huge thank you to all involved.

Christmas In Yellowstone was stunning! The narration was the best I've heard on a Yellowstone documentary to date! I watch them all, make a trip to Yellowstone at least annually, watch wolves, bears and all the other wildlife that was so wonderfully depicted and take photographs! To answer a few questions from above - the name of the Lodge is Old Faithful Snow Lodge. It is run by Xanterra. You can only get to it by snow coach at that time of year. Old Faithful area is currently closed until around December 21st. The only roads open are from the North Entrance of the Park at Gardiner, Montana through the Lamar Valley (wolf watching, elk, bison, otters and more!) to Cooke City. Yellowstone is the most awesome, wild, serene place on Earth. Tom Murphy is right - It is a Cathedral and if you don't believe me -go visit, feel it's Magic! I know some of the wolf watchers in the film - and again they were right, it doesn't get any better! Hats off to all that made this documentary come true! You can look for the DVD on PBS.org.

It looks like the DVD isn't in the PBS shop yet.

Tom Murphy is the photographer in Christmas in Yellowstone. He and his wife Bonnie are good friends of ours. We would encourage you to visit Tom's new web site (tmurphywild.com) to see more of his outstanding photographs. To answer one of the questions on this blog; you can order items such as DVDs, books, photographs, and greeting cards from Tom's web site. Tom Murphy's images are unique and his love for the wildneress runs deep. Merry Christmas!

Thank you all for your comments--My husband Tom Murphy is very excited about this film. The film was shot by Shane Moore, who does nature programs for PBS and BBc. It is some of the most beautiful footage I have ever seen. Yellowstone in winter is another world altogether, both Shane and Tom work in Yellowstone a lot, it is home to them.

I just watched this beautiful program on a new Hi Def television... It is absolutely BREATHTAKING and in spite of the blistering cold conditions at the time I'm extremely envious of the camera operator and photographer. How I've longed for a project like this. Shane Moore is my new hero!

Yes, it is a beautiful film in every sense! The scenery, the photography, and the narration are first-rate. Both Tom Murphy, who is shown roughing it (really!) in the park last winter, and Bob Landis, who contributed some footage, are outstanding Yellowstone photographers, and the PBS photographer, Shane Moore, now enters that category.

For more about seeing Yellowstone in the winter, take a look at: http://www.yellowstonetreasures.com/winter_travel1.htm and its sequel. So far this winter, the snow is not great, but the snowfall is bound to pick up in the next month or two. And, by the way, if you stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge--say hello for me to my friend George Sanborn, the pianist.

just saw the show for a second time and I too will be purchasing the video, I also loved the music, wish there was a soundtrack available
the parts I liked most were the 'diamond dust' snowfall (it mesmerized me), the foxes jumping like kittens (I didn't know they did that!), and the wolves howling at the end of the show. I agree with the comment they made about if you hear the wolf howl you can't help but want to hear it again
I also had tears in my eyes by the end

Great show! Could not get enough of watching it. Recorded it on my D.V.R. now I must but it and loan it to friends, I want them to share this incredible atmosphere of warmth this cinematography generates while showing one of the coldest places of Noth America.Extremely emotional to watch! Marvelous job by Tom Murphy and all filmakers involved, wish you good health so that you may continue inspiring us Easterners who are so distant from Yellowstone.

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