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Image Entertainment presents
Yosemite National Park (1993)



Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 10, 2002

Manufacturer: Ritek
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:57m:56s
Release Date: January 22, 2002
UPC: 014381114423
Genre: special interest


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B+B-B+ D+

DVD Review

Theodore Roosevelt called it "the most beautiful place in the world." Located 200 miles east of San Francisco in the western Sierra Nevada mountains lies California's Yosemite National Park. Homesteader Galen Clark, who came to the region during the gold rush, crusaded for the protection of the region, and in 1854 Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, which set aside the Mariposa sequoia area as a federal reserve, making Yosemite the first territory ever dedicated to public use and preservation by the US Congress. Thirty-six years later, based on the efforts of Theodore Roosevelt and Scottish naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir, the reserve gained national park status, encompassing some 1,170 square miles, with nearly 95 percent being left as natural wilderness.

Formed by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago, the heart of the park is the Yosemite Valley, carved a half mile deep, through which now flows the Merced River. The park features numerous alpine lakes and meadows, three sequoia forests, an assortment of spectacular waterfalls (including two of the highest in the world), and the 3,000-foot granite domes formed during the last ice age. Like its other Sierra Nevada neighbors, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, much of the wilderness that makes up Yosemite is inaccessible to the more than four million visitors the park receives each year. Produced in 1993, Yosemite National Park is one in a series of videos capturing the majesty and magnificence of many of America's natural treasures, and in this hour long presentation, we see the sights and inhabitants of this incredible, high mountain country throughout the seasons.

Completely without narration, and with the natural sounds backdropped by soothing new age-style music, the film takes us on a tour of the park through static, aerial and time lapse photography. We see the 1,430 foot Upper Yosemite Falls, highest in North America and third highest in the world, the views from Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point, 3,200 feet above the valley floor. The statuesque Plutonic granite Half Dome, with its sheer vertical face, and the 600-foot Nevada falls that form the head of the valley. We also visit Bridal Veil, Silhouette and Lower Yosemite Falls, as well as Tenaya Lake, and watch the seasons change along the Merced River. We travel to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides drinking water to the San Francisco region, on to Tuolumne Meadows, with its numerous lakes and fields of wildflowers, and to the park's southwest corner where the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees houses more than 200 sequoias, including the largest, "Old Grizzly," estimated at over 3,000 years old. A variety of wildlife is also captured, from coyote to bears, Western Gray Squirrels, Stellar Jays, and ducks, seen amid the Ponderosa pine and California black oak.

The style is fairly simple, letting the images speak for themselves, with no gimmicky or elaborate photographic techniques employed, save for a collection of time lapse sequences, or the aerial footage touring the mountain peaks. Landmarks are denoted by somewhat dated subtitling, and many of the shots are a bit shaky, though this does not detract from the presentation to any great extent. Segments do feel a bit roughly segued, with some ill-timed fades to black. A perennial award winner, Yosemite National Park features some breathtaking photography, even though it feels much like a travelogue, as the footage appears to have been captured on video, without the use of modern image stabilization techniques. However, the overall beauty and impressive scenery are awe-inspiring in their grandeur, and this captures the park through the seasons, from its snow-blanketed winter months, over the summer and onto the vibrant golden autumns, when mule deer feast on fallen leaves. I quite enjoyed the presentation, the images are wonderful, and I would look forward to visiting more discs in this series.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The video master used for this transfer is generally of good quality, though the resolution of the source isn't up to today's standards. Color fidelity is very good for the most part, vibrant and punchy, but the source video does exhibit some of the washout and blurring one doesn't get from film. There are periodic areas with bleeding, and high contrast areas have an inherent over-enhancement. There are a few video dropouts in places, and my copy breaks up at the 47m:25s mark for a second or two. Compression looks pretty good with only a couple of sequences where it was noticible, and fortunately not on scenes featuring a lot of foliage where this can become extremely unsightly. Not state-of-the-art, but aside from a few source issues a fairly good transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is free of any technical deficiencies, featuring natural environmental sounds set to quiet, relaxing music. Stereo imaging isn't terribly wide, and the frequency spectrum is somewhat limited, especially in the extreme low end, but the soundtrack is effective and suitable for a quiet excursion into the wilderness.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Image gallery
Extras Review: A still image gallery is presented as a 50-second slideshow, featuring some spectacular pictures from the park.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Highlighting the fantastic natural wonders that make up America's first federal reserve, Yosemite National Park is a collection of natural images, featuring a narrative-free soundtrack that creates a soothing atmosphere with relaxing music. This look at Yosemite through the seasons is an enjoyable escape, and while it lacks the polish and image clarity of a large format film production, it still conveys the awesome spectacle of this breathtaking environment.

 


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