Remembering Peter Matthiessen

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The death last week of Peter Matthiessen reminded us poignantly of the film he had done with us in 1989. Lost Man’s River has always been a favorite of mine, an absorbing and personal journey into Florida’s Everglades at a moment when Matthiessen was finishing the first of an epic series of novels revolving around Edgar “Bloody” Watson, an alleged murderer and outlaw plantation owner who was killed by his neighbors in 1910.

With his friend and fellow writer and fishing guide, Randy Wayne White, Matthiessen traveled deep into the Ten Thousand Islands to find the place where Watson lived and died and along the way brought his naturalist’s eye and his Buddhist sensibility to the forbidding and fascinating landscape of America’s last frontier.

“We have a tendency to trample on our lives” he says in the film, “by regretting the past, dreading the future, or living only for the future… We’re always living somewhere but this present moment. And this present moment is extraordinary.

“Every moment has its own openness and, intelligence and precision… That’s what the Tibetan teacher says: each moment, moment after moment.”

The film was made by Rob Whittlesey and Noel Buckner for Adventure, a series I produced for five years, starting in the late ’80s. This was the sort of film we all loved to make and share, and never more so than in this moment.

– David Fanning
Executive producer, FRONTLINE

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