The Living Desert
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1 item from 2015

Tina Fey–Narrated Monkey Kingdom Makes the Wild Familiar

17 April 2015 3:33 PM, PDT | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

It’s rarely mentioned today, but Walt Disney, alongside innovating the animated feature film, was also among the pioneers of the feature-length nature documentary. 1953’s Oscar-winning The Living Desert is still one of the pinnacles of the genre — with its beautiful photography and sly editing, not to mention its gently anthropomorphized, playful depiction of animal life in the Arizona Desert. But perhaps its most remarkable quality is its easy translation of geography and science: The Living Desert opens with an elegantly animated sequence explaining how the Sierra Nevada Mountains keep moisture from reaching the desert, and there’s a comforting simplicity to it, as if Uncle Walt and his filmmakers had succeeded in turning science into fairy tale. That’s not meant as a slight: Generations of kids back then probably first learned about the wonders of nature from these films unspooling through 16mm projectors in classrooms around the country. »

- Bilge Ebiri

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2015 | 2014 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

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