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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Uneven but Beautiful

8/10
Author: John Burkitt (chakal@catbox.com) from Nashville, Tennessee
14 September 2003

An uneven but beautiful attempt to do an early widescreen "music video" with Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite. The musical sequences are competently performed, though edited for time, and they do not appear strictly in order. What matters about this film are the visual elements. The Painted Desert sequence is as beautiful yet austere as the music, however it drags a bit. In the "Sunrise" sequence a trip down the Colorado climaxes in shooting the rapids. Innovative, but the constant downward angle with no sky ahead becomes claustrophobic. Just when you think it's going to be a so-so movie, it picks up beautifully as "On the Trail" displays the wildlife in a sensitive, natural and compelling way. The sunset and cloudburst sequences--well--see it for yourself. I won't spoil it for you. The movie involved a lot more thought than it appears. Finally, they released it in widescreen on the Deluxe Edition DVD of Sleeping Beauty. A long overdue reissuance, and very appropriate since they debuted together in the cinema.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Sort of like that huge diorama at Disneyland

10/10
Author: Strombol
1 April 2000

A hypnotically beautiful film! Unlike the usual Disney documentaries this has no narration; nature just moves along to the Grand Canyon Suite. It has several amazing scenes like watching the wind whip the clouds over and through the mountains or the one where you can almost feel yourself floating along the river as the camera lens gets soaked. I just wish I can someday see it in the letterboxed format. **** out of ****

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Camera work of quality

9/10
Author: Atreyu_II from The world of artists
10 November 2008

This is a very interesting and well executed documentary. It consists mostly in images and visuals, leaving dialogs for last place.

The visuals, sceneries and landscapes of the Grand Canyon are truly breathtaking. I'll go even farther as describe them as majestic, stunning, gorgeous and one of the world's seven wonders.

Every detail captures our attentions: those gigantic mountains, the immense desert such place is, the sun shining all over the place, the luminosity, those magical waters... all of this creates a fantastic, out-of-this-world environment.

In fact, looking at this documentary, I can't help but think of "2001: A Space Odyssey". The legendary Kubrick's film has a sequence with apes which lasts about 15 minutes in the beginning - its sceneries, landscapes and the place itself looks incredibly similar to what we see here. I bet this inspired "2001: A Space Odyssey". The fact that this documentary features classical music as background accents even more these similarities.

This documentary, which came out in 1958, is included as a bonus in the 2008 Special Edition DVD of Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty". Frankly, I don't see what this has to do with "Sleeping Beauty". Not that it matters. It's a great documentary, so who cares if this has something to do with the movie or not? In "The Rescuers" DVD, there is a documentary about water birds which has little to do with the movie, but it's a good documentary anyway.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not a great movie partner for "Sleeping Beauty", but beautiful in its own way...

7/10
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
6 August 2008

Academy Award-winning short subject was the movie prelude for many of the early showings of Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" in 1959--and while the two pictures could not be further apart in subject matter, each includes the sweep and spectral beauty (one live action, one animated) courtesy of the Disney Studio. I'm not sure whether Ferde Grofe's music suite was inspired by the sights of the Grand Canyon or whether the footage here inspired Grofe, but either way the pieces are lovely (grand in their own right). The first section, introducing us to the mountains and valleys of Arizona (with clouds hanging low in the sky, casting deep, dark shadows on the desert below), is certainly the best. The waters of the Colorado River are hypnotizing to watch (the intricate culmination of rage and steady flow of the Colorado puts on a show for us all by itself, and the camera-work and editing here are superlative). The wilderness footage is reminiscent of Disney's True-Life Adventure films, however this portion--albeit brief--may have been handled with more care (there's some 'funny' music to accompany a snake slithering up a hill, but the tone of "Grand Canyon" is surprisingly solemn). On the big screen in 1959, this must have looked (and sounded) majestic and prestigious--no wonder it copped the Oscar, it probably dwarfed the competition. *** from ****

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5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Excellent visuals and magnificent camera work, but the narration almost put me to sleep

8/10
Author: Robert Reynolds (minniemato@hotmail.com) from Tucson AZ
25 July 2001

Disney deservedly won an Oscar for this mostly well-executed documentary. Visually breathtaking, the narration has a kind of monotone, almost flat-lined quality that would practically served as a cure for insomnia in most instances. This is an Achilles heel for a great number of Disney documentaries-narration. All too often, it either drones or is too cute by at least half. Still quite good here for the visuals. Recommended.

Edit: I've been meaning to get back to this comment for some time now, for more than a couple of years now, because I watched it again back in 2003 or so, when watching the tape I recorded it on from a broadcast off the Disney Channel and realized (to my embarrassment) that I'd been mistaken in recalling it as having narration-it has only a musical score with no voice-over. I want to correct the mistake, but I choose to leave the original comment in place, as I made the mistake and it's been here for five years. Wiping it out would be self-serving. An explanation and addition is called for. I will say that I've seen this in widescreen on the Special Edition release of Sleeping Beauty and it's even more impressive in the proper ratio than it is in pan-and-scan. It isn't perfect, but it is one of Disney's better live-action short films and deserved to win its Oscar. It and Sleeping Beauty are well worth getting. Recommended.

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