Ansel Adams (Documentary): a top ten spiritual film

Ansel Adams: An American Experience Documentary Film by Ric Burns (2002)

This top ten spiritual film had me captured with its description of a young Ansel Adams hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where he saw something that he spent the rest of his life trying to convey through his photographs:

I was suddenly arrested in the long, crunching path of the ridge by an exceedingly pointed awareness of the light. The moment I paused, the full impact of the mood was upon me. I saw more clearly than I’d ever seen before, the minute detail of the grasses, the small flotsam of the forest, the motion of the high clouds streaming above the peaks. I dreamed that for a moment, time stood quietly and the vision became but the shadow of an infinitely greater world, and I had within the grasp of consciousness a transcendental experience.

Art inspired by such experience potentially evokes that experience in others, and this film is a work of art in itself. The timing and intonation of narrator David Ogden Stiers, the grand and graceful videography of Yosemite, the stark black and white photographs of Ansel Adams, and the soundtrack by Brian Keane amplify every nuance of the story, framing the journey of Adams’ life in a mood of transcendental possibility. This top ten spiritual film and the soundtrack are well worth owning.

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