To start mentally preparing ourselves, my husband and I have decided to have an Alaska movie marathon this weekend.
1. GRIZZY MAN – I saw this for the first time in high school and quickly became fascinated with the star of the film. This documentary, directed by Werner Herzog, features Timothy Treadwell, a grizzly bear enthusiast who spent 13 summers in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Between making fox cub friends and smelling bear droppings, the film is both moving and hilarious. Although many critics disparaged Treadwell for coming into such close contact with the bears, no one can deny that he had a unique affinity with animals. Personally, I think Treadwell was a little crazy, but I admire him for the work he believed in and executed so fearlessly. This is a must-see movie.
2. DICK PROENNEKE’S ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS – I remember seeing this on PBS when I was in elementary school. It was boring to me then, but it’s really interesting to me now. About a year ago, I discovered this online and proceeded to download both the first and second documentary. Alone in the Wilderness was filmed by Dick Proenneke, a man who lived alone in Twin Lakes. He was an incredibly skilled carpenter and handyman and constructed a log cabin by hand. His footage cataloguing his solitary life in Alaska was later made into a series of two documentaries (a third is supposedly going to be released in the future). The film is quiet, simple, and stragely mesmerizing.
3. INTO THE WILD – This movie definitely is in my top ten. Directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild is a classic and well-known true story about Christopher McCandless (AKA Alexander Supertramp), a 22-year-old Emory graduate who abandons his upper middle class life to pursue his dream of journeying to Alaska and “finding himself.” This film follows McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch) through Arizona, California, and South Dakota until he finally reaches Alaska near Denali National Park. His adventures lead to a tragic conclusion and a beautiful moral: Happiness is only real when shared.
4. BALTO – After I watched this movie at the age of 6, I begged my parents for a husky. Balto is such a ’90s children’s classic and is also based on a true story. In the movie, Balto is a half-dog, half-wolf stray who sets out to find a lost sled dog team carrying the vaccine for diphtheria. The film is full of fun characters, such as Rosy, a little girl who falls ill with diphtheria, Jenna, Rosy’s dog and Balto’s love interest, and Steele, the Alaskan Malamute villain and Balto’s nemesis. My personal favorite characters are Muk and Luk, two adorable polar bears. Balto’s rescue path in the movie, starting in Nenana and ending in Nome, is now part of the present day Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
I know that I’ll be even more excited and antsy for time to fly after watching these movies. Alaska can’t come soon enough!