Film and the American Moral Vision of Nature
Theodore Roosevelt to Walt Disney
With his square, bulldoggish stature, signature rimless glasses, and inimitable smile—part grimace, part snarl—Theodore Roosevelt was an unforgettable figure, imprinted on the American memory through photographs, the chiseled face of Mount Rushmore, and, especially, film. At once a hunter, explorer, naturalist, woodsman, and rancher, Roosevelt was the quintessential frontiersman, a man who believed that only nature could truly test and prove the worth of man. A documentary he made about his 1909 African safari embodied aggressive ideas of masculinity, power, racial superiority, and the connection between nature and manifest destiny. These ideas have since been reinforced by others—Jesse “Buff alo” Jones, Paul Rainey, Martin and Osa Johnson, and Walt Disney. Using Roosevelt as a starting point, filmmaker and scholar Ronald Tobias traces the evolution of American attitudes toward nature, attitudes that remain, to this day, remarkably conflicted, complex, and instilled with dreams of empire.
Publication Date: June 1st, 2011
320 pages| 7 in x 10 in
Ronald B. Tobias is a Professor of Science and Natural History Filmmaking, in the School of Film and Photography at Montana State University. He has produced, written, and directed over 30 films, many of which have appeared on PBS, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel.