Director: Michael Gunton | 170 minutes | documentary
Yellowstone was the first nature reserve in the world to be officially declared a national park. President Ulysses S. Grant granted the beautiful wilderness that status back in 1872. Yellowstone is also the largest and most famous park in the United States. The nature reserve is located high in the rugged Rocky Mountains and consists mainly of mountains, lakes and extensive forests. The vast majority of the nearly 9,000 square-mile area is in the state of Wyoming, but some areas of the park are within the Montana and Idaho state boundaries. Yellowstone’s main attractions are its rich wildlife, thousands of steam vents and hot springs, and of course, its spectacular geysers. Specimen Ridge is also home to the largest forest of petrified tree trunks that you can find in the United States.
Not surprisingly, Yellowstone is visited by approximately three million people annually. Yet there are also places, animals and scenes that the fleeting passer-by will rarely or never get to see. Think, for example, of timid wolf families, an otter family that skips through the meter-high snow, or drifting herds of gaff antelopes, the fastest marathon runners in the world. “Yellowstone” is thematically divided into three seasons, namely winter, summer and autumn. Certainly getting through the winter is no mean feat in Yellowstone, because during the long winter the park turns into a huge freezer where merciless elements rule. In the coldest places, the mercury can sometimes even drop below -40 degrees Celsius. Bacon buyers are mainly wolves, as the prey targeted by the opportunistic and intelligent predators are often severely weakened in winter by exhaustion and cold. In the second episode we see how, under the soothing heat of the first rays of the sun, the barren ice landscape of part one slowly but surely gives way to grassy meadows and green forests. A welcome wrap for large grazers such as bison and moose deer. But summer is not without its dangers either. The withering that occurs during the summer period makes the area very vulnerable to forest fires. At first glance, the fires appear to be destructive in nature, but in the long term and within the greater whole of things, they are also useful, even of great ecological importance. They give the vast coniferous forests of Yellowstone the opportunity to regenerate. The series finale features autumn, the most spectacular and exuberant season in Yellowstone National Park.
When “Yellowstone” was first broadcast on the BBC – the mother of all broadcasters when it comes to nature documentaries – the series was immediately good for big viewing figures. And at the 2009 International Wildlife Film Festival Awards, the film was also good for a few awards. Only logical if you judge the film objectively on its merits. The camerawork, for example, is breathtaking. The fumes from the bubbling hot springs almost literally pour into your living room, while you can almost taste the dust that fighting male bison throws up in their exhausting battle for the favor of the females in the dry summer pastures. Furthermore, “Yellowstone” contains a variety of unique images, windows that give the viewer a brief insight into the intimate life of animals that is rarely seen by human eyes. To be able to collect this arsenal of enchanting images, the camera crew used, among other things, HD cameras and devices that can process several shots per second, especially to slow down the action shots. Many images are also taken from the air, which regularly produces overwhelming panoramas. The visual whole is supported by a solid and compelling story. In short, watching “Yellowstone” is certainly an experience if you like nature documentaries. A series that will keep even the most spoiled viewers glued to the screen.