|Index||4 reviews in total|
It is best to treat this dated but pleasant documentary as entertainment.
Paul Smith's music is incredibly evocative, especially at the birth of a
bison and during the fury of a flash flood.
The tone of the narration is often downbeat, referring to qualities of this unique environment soon to be lost forever. To keep from being sucked down into this negativity, keep in mind that recent interest in preserving the prairie environment is being matched with federal assistance, and hopefully the "Vanishing Prairie" won't vanish after all.
The photography is by all accounts excellent. Disney enlisted the help of world-class nature photographers who endured hardships, disappointments, and seemingly-eternal stakeouts behind a camera lens to get just the right shot. When you see it on the screen it all looks too easy. Folks, it's not easy at all! And remember that these films were pioneering firsts that pre-dated Animal Planet, the Crocodile Hunter, and even Wild Kingdom. It started here, and it started with style.
I imagine that a lot of viewers today, young or old, will wonder why "The Vanishing Prairie" was so popular at the time, and why it won an Academy Award. In many ways it doesn't seem very different from the countless nature documentary shows seen on television nowadays. But one has to remember that this was new stuff to audiences back in 1954. And while its approach may be familiar, the documentary still manages to entertain today. Certainly, sharp-eyed viewers will manage to point out with confidence segments that were obvious manipulated (or down right faked) in the editing room or on location. But the documentary does contain more often than not footage that is genuine (like the famous birth of a baby bison sequence) and manages to educate as well as entertain. If you're in the mood for a nature documentary and your expectations aren't extremely high, you'll likely find this to be worth your time.
Oscar-winning documentary from Disney about life on the American prairie. No humans here, just various animals. Most of which are being cute. There are some moments to illustrate nature's more violent tendencies but nothing too graphic or depressing. This is Disney, after all. The point of this was to raise awareness about conservation of the prairie. It may seem dated and unoriginal today after decades of nature documentaries on television but, keep in mind, this was pioneering stuff back in 1954. I can imagine it was very impressive to see such footage in theaters at the time. The color photography is beautiful. There's also a fine music score from Paul J. Smith. Winston Hibler's narration is a little monotonous but there's enough action, drama, and humor to keep your interest. It's very enjoyable and should please young and old alike.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Disney's second feature-length True-Life Adventure, after "The Living Desert". I still have reservations about the use of music for a comic effect, but I suppose it's done to cater to the smallest kids in the audience. Once again, the company photographers deserve credit for their hard work. Most impressive are the shots from INSIDE the underground tunnels that the prairie "dogs" (more like squirrels) dig, most revealing is the scene of a buffalo giving birth, and most suspenseful the near-encounter between a puma and a fawn. *** out of 4.
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