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Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film (2002)

An in depth study of Adams's life and work.


Ric Burns


Ric Burns
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Ansel Adams Ansel Adams ... Himself (archive footage)
Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton ... Reader (voice)
Barbara Feldon ... Reader (voice)
John Szarkowski John Szarkowski ... Photographer
Carl Pope Carl Pope ... Sierra Club
Jonathan Spaulding Jonathan Spaulding ... Biographer
William Turnage William Turnage ... Ansel Adams Trust
Andrea Gray Stillman Andrea Gray Stillman ... Editor
Mary Street Alinder Mary Street Alinder ... Biographer
Anne Adams Helms Anne Adams Helms ... Daughter
Michael Adams Michael Adams ... Son
John Sexton John Sexton ... Photographer
Alan Ross Alan Ross ... Photographer


This American Experience documentary which aired on WGBH, Boston, in 2002, explores the many sides of legendary photographer Ansel Adams. Most associate him with black and white images of Yosemite and other wilderness areas he captured with his large format camera. His passion for nature is well-known. But, Adams had another interest so intense that he was forced to make a decision early in his life as to what would occupy most of his energy, photography or classical music performance. The latter he pursued in his birthplace, San Francisco, and had he not spent quite as much time outdoors and particularly in Yosemite Valley, we might be missing some of the world's most famous and most beautiful photographs. In typical Ric Burns fashion, we are presented a satisfying overview of this the man who was most influential in making photography into art. This effort is one of the director's most intimate efforts, perhaps because of his love of the subject matter. The film satisfies our need ... Written by Michael Carter

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Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

PBS [United States]





Release Date:

21 April 2002 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Adams himself carried a thirty-pound pack full of photographic equipment; that in addition to the hundred pounds packed on his mule, Mistletoe. See more »

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User Reviews

Intimate, fascinating, surprising
9 August 2011 | by angelofvicSee all my reviews

It's almost shocking how fascinating this biographical documentary is. But when you combine the curious and variegated and pioneering story of Ansel Adams -- who led a much more unusual and surprising life than one might expect -- with his extraordinary, absolutely breathtaking photographs, presented gloriously and reverently, you get a film that is riveting from start to finish.

Whether you are a fan of Ansel Adams or not, whether you know even one whit about him or not, or even whether you are well-versed on Adams' life, I guarantee you will enjoy and be mesmerized by this intimate and fascinating film. It's like one of those novels you can't put down.

This is a heartwarming masterpiece of a film.

Note: This film is listed under various titles in various places, so if you're looking for it or for the DVD, just remember it's the 2002 film, and search under the following titles, which are all the same film:

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film

American Experience: Ansel Adams

It will be a glorious find. You won't be disappointed.

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