BWW Review: BORN TO REWILD Is A Majestic And Meaningful Call To Preserve The Wild
Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology and the United States' wilderness system, opined that "All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively the land." (The Land Ethic, A Sand County Almanac, 1949).
Leopold's proposition is upheld and promoted today by a vest network of institutions and individuals who understand the interconnectedness of all things, principally of humankind and the environment.
Among this band of champions was the filmmaker Ed George, whose documentary, BORN TO REWILD, chronicles the remarkable journey of another environmental hero, John Davis, along the Continental Divide. Was, because George died a year ago, but not without leaving a legacy in the film completed by his friend and cinematographer Bryan Reinhart.
Davis, a triathlete, wildlands advocate and co-founder of the Wildlands Network, launched in 2013 what he called TrekWest as a journey to promote wildlife corridors and the recovery of missing species.
The film is beautifully conceived ~ an intimate and personalized narrative framed by spectacular photography of the diverse landscape and vistas from Sahuaripa in Sonora, Mexico through the Sierra Madre, past the Colorado Plateau and Glacier National Park and beyond the U.S./Canadian border to British Columbia. This is National Geographic on steroids ~ but with a heart and soul.
Davis is precise in his objective ~ that a Continental Wildlife Corridor is an ethical imperative that requires, for its fulfillment the reconnecting of people to place ~ and the pictures, including images of animals captured by remote wildlife cameras, throughout the film are worth more than a thousand words to support his case.
Along the way, Davis encounters what is, for all intents and purposes, a corridor of mentors (including Dave Foreman, author of Rewilding North America), kindred spirits, and conservationists, all interconnected with a shared vision of protecting and expanding the habitats that are currently fragmented and therefore inimical to wildlife and wildland preservation. Each presents variations on the theme and different areas of focus ranging from protection of jaguars to fish restoration to preservation of watersheds, but all together constitute a single community.
He confronts as well the threats to the fulfillment of their vision. For example, at the beginning of the trek, Davis meets what he defines as "the biggest obstacle to jaguar recolonizing in the U.S. at the international boundary ~ the ungodly U.S. border walls that block wildlife movement between the U.S. and Mexico while allowing drug runners over." Later on, it's energy development and other forms of construction and infrastructure that may impede progress. Yes, there is as well a healthy amount of advocacy in the film (including a convenient exchange with the Sierra Club), but there are also, for every perceived obstacle, men and women with creative solutions.
In the course of a 238 day, 5000 mile journey, what unfolds in essence is a community pilgrimage. In a dazzling and spiritually uplifting 55 minutes, we are witnesses and party to that pilgrimage and, hopefully, convinced of our obligation to share in the stewardship of our planet and its occupants.
BORN TO REWILD is one of the select features at this year's Sedona International Film Festival, which runs from February 18th through the 26th.
Photo credit to Ed George