February 23rd, 2011
John Muir in the New World
About the Documentary Film

Preservationist, naturalist, author, explorer, activist, scientist, farmer, John Muir (4/21/1838 – 12/24/1914) was all these things and more. Nearly a century after his death, this Scottish American is remembered and revered as the father of the environmental movement and the founder of the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. American Masters continues its 25th anniversary season with John Muir in the New World, airing nationally Monday, April 18 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings or watch the full film online) in honor of Earth Day (4/22) and John Muir Day (4/21). Explaining his impact then and now, this 90-minute documentary delves into Muir’s life and influences with reenactments filmed in high definition throughout the majestic landscapes he visited: Wisconsin, Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, the Alhambra Valley of California, and the glaciers of Alaska. Placing our nation’s most important natural assets in a cultural and social context, John Muir in the New World is a timely reminder of America’s unique and, ultimately, threatened eco-systems.

Watch a preview:

“It’s incredible what we owe to John Muir and, in our era of Katrina and oil spills, how very much we should revere his message today,” says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters, a seven-time winner of the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Primetime Non-Fiction Series. The series is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

A lover and champion of the American wilderness, Muir believed that it was our responsibility as citizens to protect our natural surroundings. Through his tireless advocacy and his writings, Muir helped preserve the Yosemite Valley, led the fight against the Hetch Hetchy dam – the first nationwide battle of the environmental movement – and was the force behind the creation of the National Park Service. John Muir in the New World explores the influence of his Calvinist father, Daniel; the writings of Alexander von Humboldt and Ralph Waldo Emerson; his friend and mentor Jeanne Carr; marriage to Louie Strentzel; and friendship and work for Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of The Century Magazine; to illustrate how Muir developed his ideas about nature and became a respected scientist, writer and “publicist for nature” during a critical period in U.S. history.

Emmy-winning Director/Producer/Writer Catherine Tatge conveys Muir’s passion for and spiritual bond with nature through reverential reenactments of his life-changing journeys: his 1,000-mile walk from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico, his years living in the Yosemite Valley wilderness and climbing the Sierras, his continued study of glaciers in Alaska, and his life as a farmer with his family in Martinez and the Alhambra Valley. Mountaineer Joe Butler portrays the young Muir; photographer and mountaineer Howard Weamer, the winter caretaker of Yosemite’s Ostrander Lake Ski Hut, portrays the older Muir; and Patsy Fulhorst, a school teacher in Yosemite, avid trekker, naturalist and hiker, portrays Jeanne Carr.

“I enlisted a team of experts to ensure the accuracy and integrity of everything we captured on film, right down to every plant specimen and bird call,” explains Tatge about the exhaustive research that went into making John Muir in the New World. Among them, Emmy-winning sound recordist and international acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton provided the film’s natural sounds based on Muir’s Yosemite writings, which were integrated with the original score by Garth Neustadter, and Bob Roney a.k.a. “Yosemite Bob” served as a consultant and guide. Narrated by Jane Alexander, the film also features readings from Muir’s journals and articles, as well as interviews with Allison Chin, President of the Sierra Club (2008-2010), environmental historians, scholars, and others.

John Muir in the New World is a co-production of Global Village Media and THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Catherine Tatge is producer, director and writer, Leslie Clark is producer and writer, Bob Elfstrom is director of photography (recreations), Dan Kowalski is director of photography (nature footage), Tom Haneke is editor, and executive producers are Peter Evans and Steve Boyd. Dominique Lasseur is executive producer for Global Village Media. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters. Major funding for John Muir in the New World has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers. Major funding for this program was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding for this program was provided by The Russell Family Foundation, Roger Jordan Fund of the RSF Global Community Fund, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Walter Henry Freygang Foundation, Billings and John E. Cay III, and Craig McKibben & Sarah Merner.

  • larry mullins

    I AM so anxious to see this film. I lived in SF for twenty three yrs, and discovered Yosemite in the mid 80’s. I formed the routine of spending a week in Yosemite early spring and fall. To avoid the huge crowds that come in summer. At night, exhausted from hiking I would read John’t books. I too, was no longer enamered with orgnized religion. But Yosemite, and the words of John Muir, became my bible and my place of wourship. Circumstances forced my back to the mid west, and I haven’t been to my sacred place in some time. And miss it terribly. But thrive on the Words of John Muir, Ancel Adems and his photography, and of course wonderful films like this that pay homage to my favorite place in the world. Yosemite.

  • phil kako

    PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE;Remind me od what where and when for me here in Hollywood,ca. i HAVE A NOTE UP BUT, IT SEEMS AS THOUGH i HAVE TO PUT A NOTE UP FOR THE NOTE. THANKS

  • David Rey Echt

    I have loved Yosemite since childhood. For me, the exhilaration I experienced upon awakening on the top of Half Dome transcends all religion.
    Thank You John Muir!

  • Kevin Morgan

    John Muir was such an amazing man. I cannot fathom what it must have been like to see Yosemite for the first time, the grandeur, the majestic landscapes, the waterfalls and meadows. I have hiked many of the trails there including Half Dome and have not visited a more beautiful place in all the world. T o quote Muir,” No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in it’s walls seems to glow with life, the true ownership of the wilderness belongs in the highest degree to those who love it most.” I truly look forward to watching this documentary and am excited to learn more about the man many call the “Father of Yosemite”.
    Yosemite is a special place for me, I can only imagine what Eden must have looked like if Yosemite is anything close.

  • Melba Taylor Jones

    I too put up a sticky note. In Parade Picks weekly,one can look for reminders like the PBS Great Masters. This week reminded me of the James Taylor, Carol King’s special about The Troubadours club. Wonderful show!! I live in Texas and have visited Yosemite once. I am thankful for the people that have help save some of nature. I have three Ansel Adams prints of Yosemite. I am sure after seeing John Muir in The New Wotld, I will be wanting to visit again as soon as possiable

  • Robin

    Is there any promotional information I could post at my library about this program. I would love to share this information.

  • Wil Reding

    I have had John as a mentor since my early twenty and now in my sixties I find him even more appealing ! His spirituality in relationship to and with the Natural world is one of the things that draw me to understand more of him and his believes. I have been able to visit his homes in Wisconsin, California, sone to be in Scotland, and each time rewarded. In fact when my wife asked what I wanted to do to celebrate my 60th birthday, I said lets re-walk John’s “1000 Mile Walk to the Gulf” and we did in 2006, on foot! I look forward to another piece to the puzzle!

  • Christian Olsen Synoradzki

    Such a wonderful treat this will be to experience this documentary, and also hear the music of Garth Neustadter!!!

  • patrick flood

    Coming out of the northwest and king around Mt Rainier, I’m very excited to watch and share this program! I look forward to learning so much more about John. -floodski

  • Donald Atwater

    I am really looking forward to seeing this. I have always enjoyed learning about John Muir. Through an interesting set of circumstances my daughter and a friend’s daughter get to play John Muir’s daughters in his documentary, and I look forward to seeing their scenes most of course!

  • Jessica K

    I always love to support works with alumni connections! Thank you Lawrence University!

  • Alana M

    Love John Muir! In this age, where children are in school for 7 hour days, given hours of homework and over-scheduled with activities to the point of being physically and emotionally sick, John Muir is a great reminder and model of our soul’s need/desire to commune with Nature.

  • Ed

    I look forward to this documentary however I am left wondering what the producer means by “It’s incredible what we owe to John Muir and, in our era of Katrina and oil spills, how very much we should revere his message today”.

    What does Katrina have to do with anything? This was a natural disaster, not a man made disaster, all politics aside.

  • Kathy Kingman-Solum

    I can’t wait for this airing! Not only because he was a great man but also because my little girl and her friend play his young daughters. I have posted this on face book to help promote it.

  • Proud Momma

    My daughters movie debut! She plays the elder daughter of John Muir, Wanda!

  • Phillip Paul

    There was a mistake made in the film. The film says there has not been another damn built in a nation Forest after the building of the Hetch Hetchy damn. However in 2008 in the Homochitto National Forest an 1100 acre lake named Okhissa Lake was formed buy building a damn. Just like in the Hetch Hetchy Valley beautiful land was lost never to be trekked again.

  • Phillip Paul

    The film says there hasn’t been another damn built in a nation Forest after the building of the Hetch Hetchy damn. However in 2008 in the Homochitto National Forest an 1100 acre lake named Okhissa Lake was formed buy building a damn. Just like in the Hetch Hetchy Valley beautiful land was lost never to be trekked again.

  • Phillip Paul

    The film says there has not been another damn built in a nation Forest after the building of the Hetch Hetchy damn. However in 2008 in the Homochitto National Forest an 1100 acre lake named Okhissa Lake was formed buy building a damn.

  • Nancy

    I stumbled upon this program and was riveted by it. Having visited Yosemite a dozen times in my life. Will never forget my trips there especially my hike and climb to half dome. Nature is food for my soul. Words can not express the beauty and awe of God’s creation and every minute part of the ecosystem is part of the the big plan.Been to many national parks but must say this is my favorite.

  • Therese

    The last quote from Mr Muir, where is it written? It was sooo beautiful and thoughtful.

  • Doug Skare

    4/18/11

    Part of my career in education was as one of the year-round outdoor science teachers for Long Beach Unified School District in California. I sometimes used John Muir as the topic of campfires the last evening of 6th graders’ week at our Camp HiHill School behind Pasadena in the Angeles National Forest and I was particularly attentive toward tonight’s excellent PBS presentation.

    From one of Muir’s books I have enjoyed sharing the story of John resting beneath a tree. When he began talking to a bird above him other birds and then various animals came and listened to him. He began to recite poetry but ran out of that so he then sang songs. Then he sang hymns but when he began singing “Old 100″ all the creatures and birds flew and ran off. Some time later, in another place Muir did the same thing and again when he sang “Old 100,” they all disappeared!

    I had to search a bit to finally discover that “Old 100″ is today’s “Doxcology”!

  • Ethan

    Best of all, I saw Stickeen running alongside John on the glacier!

  • David Scott

    Amazing man. Superb film. PBS does it again!
    What are the Republicans thinking!?!?

  • Dan Styer

    Wonderful job on this film!

    I am a particular devotee of Muir’s “Thousand-Mile Walk To the Gulf” and I wonder where the scenes depicting this portion were filmed … it looked to me like Cades Cove in Great Smoky Park.

    I do want to point out one error: Film said that the thousand-mile walk went through South Carolina whereas it was really North Carolina.

  • Dan Styer

    “Phillip Paul says:
    April 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    The film says there hasn’t been another damn built in a nation Forest after the building of the Hetch Hetchy damn.”

    Actually the film says not “National Forest” but “National Park”.

  • Dan Styer

    “Ed says:
    April 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    …I am left wondering what the producer means by “It’s incredible what we owe to John Muir and, in our era of Katrina and oil spills, how very much we should revere his message today”.

    What does Katrina have to do with anything? This was a natural disaster, not a man made disaster … .”

    I can’t speak for the producer, but Katrina inflicted much more damage than it would have because of man-made wetland loss:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4393852.stm

    And of course you have to question the wisdom of building a city below sea level in the first place …

  • Dan Styer

    “Therese asks:
    April 19, 2011 at 1:55 am

    The last quote from Mr Muir, where is it written? It was sooo beautiful and thoughtful.”

    “Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s feast — all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share Heaven’s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity.”

    – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir; edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe (University of Wisconsin Press, 1938) pages 339-340.

    “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

    – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir; edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe (University of Wisconsin Press, 1938) page 439

  • Rachel Bellenoit

    What a superb documentary. So many of us have left organized religion and gone into the woods to find our spirituality. Muir was a man so ahead of his time and his vision has helped so many of us, past and future, find our cosmic consciousness in Nature.

  • John

    What a superb documentary.

    “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

    If a transcript exists online, would anyone be willing to share the link with me? I’d love to read through it after seeing this film.

    With Gratitude,
    Joh

  • Tom C

    When and where can I buy John Muir in the New World on DVD? The pbs website does not list it. Does wnet sell DVDs?

  • Dr. Kaufman

    QUESTION::: IN the Doc there is an event related where Muir – or another – gets separated from others and has a dire adventure of survival in the wilderness. Does this ring a bell – can you give me more information?? – thanks.

  • Andy Y

    Phillip Paul says:
    “April 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    The film says there has not been another damn built in a nation Forest after the building of the Hetch Hetchy damn. However in 2008 in the Homochitto National Forest an 1100 acre lake named Okhissa Lake was formed buy building a damn.

    The films says “national park” not “national forest.” It’s true of the national parks. The NPS and the US Forest service are different agencies with very different statutory obligations.

    The national forests and Forest Service are Gifford Pinchot’s legacy. Curiously, I don’t remember his name even being mentioned in this documentary, yet Pinchot looms large most discussions of Muir.

Salinger

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