Wonderful film, I just think it splendid. I’m transported.
I watched this beautiful film this evening and found it very informative and very well done.
It is no easy task to produce a vivid and captivating one hour documentary film on the life and accomplishments of a 19th century botanist. Filmmaker Lois Leonard has, however, accomplished this. Finding David Douglas makes creative use of glowing botanical prints, richly-toned photographs, intensely filmed comments from scientists and historians, and bright contemporary footage of Pacific Northwest flora, to tell its tale. The resulting film weaves together the short life story of Scotsman David Douglas (1799-1834) and his compulsion to document his world’s astounding array of plant life, focusing on his two visits to the West Coast of North America, and to Hawaii, in the 1820s and 1830s. Douglas was a man of small stature, a shy disposition, and immense stamina and drive. In his travels he was able to engag the collaboration of both Native Americans and sojourning trappers and traders. Gathering, drying, pressing, labeling, and describing, Douglas walked thousands of miles in North American woods. His findings—his written accounts as well as seeds and specimens—added to Europe’s botanical knowledge, but they also aided wealthy Englishmen in creating exotic gardens and pointed ahead toward a reforestation of his native Scotland. As the Douglas fir stands tall in Northwest forests, Finding David Douglas stands tall in regional filmmaking, an epic tale of an iconic figure.
Finding David Douglas is based on prodigious archival study and accurately and engagingly depicts the life of this famous plant collector. The documentary is made visually pleasing by revisiting many places Douglas collected.
Finding David Douglas is a wonderful journey through the life and times of David Douglas. I enjoyed every minute of it. It brings the adventures of the “Grass Man” to life and provides a stunning glimpse into the natural world of western North America in the early 1800s. The character and personal challenges of Douglas are particularly well conveyed and juxtaposed with his enormous scientific contributions.
[Douglas’s] legacy remains in the forests, woodlands and gardens of Scotland and Britain. Finding David Douglas, in just under an hour, accurately tells the story of the man and his work.
The documentary makes evident not only the contributions Douglas made to the introduction and promulgation of North American plants but also his achievements as a traveler and geographer. Despite the intervening centuries the narrative gives a real sense of Douglas and his time largely because of the extensive footage of the wonderful landscapes of western North America as a backdrop to excerpts from Douglas’s own writings. The documentary is both scholarly and entertaining, a rare combination and one that is likely to have wide appeal. The use of various voices gives a pace and variety to the production which shows a solid understanding of what makes a successful documentary.
This production is a first rate documentary that is both vivid and compelling in telling the story of famed botanist and explorer David Douglas and his extraordinary contributions to botany on an international level. I found this film to be exceedingly well done from both a storyline and production point of view.