I bought this VHS tape in the early 90s at the Virgin Atlantic Megastore in San Francisco, and really wasn't sure what to expect of it. It was the proverbial "blind buy", so to speak. But, I figured since it was regarding the National Geographic Society it had to be interesting.
And so it was. This is a very nice retrospective on the history of the Society. The film relates the Societies origins, some background history of its first publications, and the major historic landmarks it has both covered and participated in.
I personally found it heart warming. It reminded me of the sense of discovery that was once keenly felt prior to the days of instant information. There was a sense of exploration that the reader experienced as they either turned the pages of the magazine or watched one of the National Geographic Specials on broadcast television. The world, though known, was still unknown to a lot of non-explorers. The original journal and specials took us to real places on the face of the Earth, and imbued us with a sense of discovery.
And that's really what this film is about. The sense of discovery that the National Geographic Society has brought us throughout the century plus of its existence. The film merely brings us the back-story and highlights, it doesn't delve into the specific topics that the National Geographic Society has covered.
The National Geographic Society itself has evolved from a purely geographic and geopolitical science journal to an organization that explores all aspects of science and nature, including political science (as it is one of the branches of science) as it pertains to the worlds' geographic makeup. The society itself, again with specials and journal, have even taken us to the Moon and beyond. I still have my old astronomy issues (and then some).
As for viewer suitability, one should note that the old joke about young boys buying National Geographic to see topless natives is addressed in this special, so, the more cautious parent might want to screen the special before showing their child (parent depending). The immodesty shown is done in the tradition of National Geographic; not expository for the sake of it, but for the sake of education.
I personally love this film, and recommend it to anyone who grew up on National Geographic specials, or who has a fondness for the magazine. Regrettably, at the time of this writing it's not yet available on DVD, and doesn't look likely to be. But, the VHS tape is still available at the official National Geographic website.
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