Documentary tells the story of Dick Proenneke who, in the late 1960s, built his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Dick Proenneke ...
Bob Swerer Jr. ...
Wendy Ishii ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
On-air Co-host with Nicholas Guest


Documentary tells the story of Dick Proenneke who, in the late 1960s, built his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. Using color footage he shot himself, Proenneke traces how he came to this remote area, selected a homestead site and built his log cabin completely by himself. The documentary covers his first year in-country, showing his day-to-day activities and the passing of the seasons as he sought to scratch out a living alone in the wilderness. Written by Anonymous

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8 October 2004 (USA)  »

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Dick Proenneke: I suppose, too, I was here to test myself. Not that I had never done it before, but this time, it was to be a more thorough and lasting examination. What was I capable of that I didn't know yet? Could I truly enjoy my own company for an entire year?
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Followed by Alone in the Wilderness Part II (2011) See more »

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A 20th century Walden
5 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I recently saw this on PBS and it certainly is a documentary that strikes a fundamental chord in everyone, living a life in solitude almost entirely off the land. You do need the skills and knowledge and a little backup from the outside world to pull it off and the film's subject Richard Proenneke had all three. He grew up on a farm then went into the Navy. His various occupations in the first 30 years of his working life included; carpenter, diesel mechanic, sheep rancher, cattle rancher, heavy equipment operator, salmon fisherman and fish & game service. After moving to Alaska and living there for 27 years he decided he would retire, build a cabin and live alone in the wilderness. In 1967 at the age of 51 he cut timber and prepared a site to build his cabin on. Late the next spring he returned to the site and for the next 16 months he chronicled in his journals and on 16 mm self- shot film his construction of the cabin and the changing of the seasons as he adapted to his new lifestyle. He was totally self-sufficient except for an occasional visit from his friend bush pilot Babe Alsworth to bring him beans, flour and cooking condiments to supplement his wild game, fish and berries that he harvested from the land and his own climate-limited vegetable garden. After the 16 months that is the subject of this film he did return to the lower 48 to visit relatives as he would occasionally over the next 30 years but this was his home until 1999 when at the age of 83 he could no longer keep up with the demands of such a life and returned to civilization to live out his remaining years. His journals were published in 1973 as One Man's Wilderness: An American Odyssey by his friend Sam Keith. Another set of journals were edited by another friend, John Branson, and published in 2005 as More Readings From One Man's Wilderness: The Journals of Richard L. Proenneke (1974-1980). For this film nature photographers/filmmakers Bob Swerer and his son Bob Jr. compiled and edited the 16 mm films shot by Proenneke and added some additional cinematography to enhance the narrative. There seems to be some conflicting information on who is the narrator of this film. Although it is not Richard Proenneke himself it is read from his journals and in a matter-of-fact first person tone as if it were actually Proenneke. IMDb and others credit the filmmaker Swerer as the narrator but it is probably Proennneke's nephew Ray Proenneke Jr. He is credited as additional cinematography but I think that is incorrect and he is in fact the narrator. It would account for his voice being genetically similar to his uncle and a more perfect match to the man on the screen. Since Richard Proenneke went through so much effort of filming this and setting up his shots and carting his camera around the wilderness and taking copious notes in his journals I have to wonder why he didn't tape record his voice at the same time he was doing this. Anyone will enjoy the dual simplicity and difficulty, the romanticism, naturalness and ingeniousness of the experience that this film documents. I couldn't have did it. The bush pilot would have found my animal scattered bones near the remains of my pathetic crudely built lean-to. This is a fascinating film and I would give it a 9.0 out of 10.

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