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Wild by Law (1991)

| Documentary
This Oscar nominated short documentary presents the inspiring and real life story of the pioneers of environmental protection in America, their contributions to the cause of saving ... See full summary »


Ken Chowder
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Linda Hunt ... Narrator
Ralph Waite ... Aldo Leopold (voice)
Richard B. Shull ... Howard Zahniser (voice)
Peter Haydu ... Bob Marshall (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nina Leopold Bradley Nina Leopold Bradley ... Self
David Brower David Brower ... Self
J. Baird Callicot J. Baird Callicot ... Self
William Cronon William Cronon ... Self
Floyd Dominy Floyd Dominy ... Self
Stephen R. Fox Stephen R. Fox ... Self
Aldo Leopold Aldo Leopold ... Self (archive footage)
Estella Leopold Estella Leopold ... Self
Luna Leopold Luna Leopold ... Self
Bob Marshall Bob Marshall ... Self (archive footage)
Roderick Nash Roderick Nash ... Self
Learn more

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This Oscar nominated short documentary presents the inspiring and real life story of the pioneers of environmental protection in America, their contributions to the cause of saving thousands of acres of natural territories and wild life preservation, all which led to the Creation of the Wilderness Act, law passed in 1964. Written by Rodrigo Amaro

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Saving what's left of the wilderness
20 March 2014 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

A gripping real story that I didn't know much about, very interesting to watch and learn about an almost forgotten chapter of America's preservation history. "Wild by Law" presents part of the life and trajectory of the three pioneers who fought for the safety and preservation of U.S. natural territories when the American Way of Life of the 1950's and its progress were a menace to the life and the vast nature of the country, and eventually a menace to the future civilization. They were Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall and Howard Zahniser, philosophers, environmentalists and forest rangers committed in saving the wilderness, involving themselves in projects that stopped the construction of river dams and even new cities that could destroy all what's useful and vital for a balanced life. Their acts would result in the creation of the Wilderness Act, in 1964, law passed by Johnson.

What impressed me the most was a story involving Leopold, who used to hunt wolves when he started off as a ranger, but he completely he realized how wrong he was in doing that because all the animals eaten by the wolves were at a large quantity compared to the wolves, diminishing at each new hunt. That's when it hits him that he was contributing for unbalance in the ecosystem. Friends with Leopold, Marshall was a more interesting character. He build a self reservation where he lived with his family and he actually tried to make something practically unheard of: to restore nature. Almost as if turning back time, going in the opposite direction of the capitalist and destructive progress, trying to expand nature. An utopic project but quite fascinating. Zahniser didn't know personally the two other men, but he was the one who wrote and pushed forward the legal definition of wilderness that would result in the Wilderness Act, but using of Leopold and Marshall experiences. And it is thanks to this trio that America has 9.1 million of acres of protected areas, law signed 50 years ago.

What I've seen in "Wild by Law" gives a solid basis for an award winning fictional movie with powerful characters and great messages. The documentary directed by Lawrence Lott and Diane Garey is relatively short and simple, supported by great interviews (except for the pitiful old man who was very negative towards the law, but very favorite to the construction of more river dams), nice archive images and injecting part of the nature writings of Zahniser, Marshall and Leopold. The only minor downer is some excessive patriotic bits, overused and almost nauseating. Highly commendable film, and truly inspiring. 8/10

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