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The National Parks: America's Best Idea [Blu-ray] (2009)

Adam Arkin , Philip Bosco , Ken Burns , Dayton Duncan  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (390 customer reviews)

List Price: $129.99
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The National Parks: America's Best Idea [Blu-ray] + The War: A Film by Ken Burns [Blu-ray] + Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco, Kevin Conway, Peter Coyote
  • Directors: Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan, Producer, Writer
  • Format: Blu-ray, Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: October 6, 2009
  • Run Time: 720 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (390 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002GWDK6Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,940 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The National Parks: America's Best Idea [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

The Making of The National Parks: America's Best Idea
Capturing the Parks
Musical Journeys Through the National Parks
Outtakes: An Interview With Nevada Barr and The Boss
The National Parks: This is America
Contemporary stories from America's National Parks

Editorial Reviews

The National Parks tells the human history of five of the nation s most important and most heavily visited National Parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Acadia, and Great Smoky Mountains) and the unforgettable Americans who made them possible. Set against some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, each park s story is filled with incidents and characters as gripping and fascinating as American history has to offer. Woven into the series will also be a broader, evolving story of the very idea of National Parks, as uniquely an American concept as jazz, baseball, and the Declaration of Independence as well as the expanding, constantly changing National Parks system and the growing role they all have come to play in our nation's sense of itself, its past, and its future. Special Features include: Spanish Audio, Spanish and English Subtitles, and Descriptive Video.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
155 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VISION REALIZED September 29, 2009
By Randy
Format:DVD
I live in Gardiner, Montana (location of the Roosevelt Arch) and work in Yellowstone, and I experienced firsthand the genuine passion and forthright efforts of Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan and their staff as they took their vision and turned it into a poetic masterpiece. Their years of hard work not only in Yellowstone but throughout the entire national park system have paid off, and we are the lucky beneficiaries of their skillful and spirited tenacity.

This film speaks gently and lovingly of the National Parks idea. The majestic vistas, the enlightening interviews, the background music -- woven together they demonstrate the power of "place", and fill us with a desire to further protect and honor these sacred sites.

We cannot live without the land, and we cannot live well without understanding our past. "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" is an authentic rendering of those very truths, and like all things good and beautiful, will be experienced and revered for ages to come, just as will the national parks themselves.
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91 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America's Best *IDEA* September 29, 2009
By Jon
Format:DVD
Not sure why people are complaining about not getting more geological data or wildlife info. This documentary is about the IDEA of our National Park systems which includes inspirations and motivations. As history lover's review says...it's how (and why) our National Parks came to be. I'm sure Burns included the term "idea" for good reason. The idea that Burns goes after seems to be a philosophy against commercialism and greed which makes sense after seeing the first episode. Who cares if spirituality was one of the inspirations though? For many, appreciating nature is a spiritual or at least meditative experience regardless of what they do or don't believe. So far this documentary is organized much the same as Burns' other films. Nice music, nice scenery captured in nice camera work with nice photographs- all interwoven with Park Rangers, historians, writers and other experts on the people and places mentioned. So far so good! Leave it to Burns to use National Parks to provide another reminder that not everything in this country is money motivated. If the rest of the episodes are as good as what I've seen it'll be worth a purchase.

e: Now that the series is over I can say I really enjoyed it. I feel pretty much the same as my initial review above. I do agree with some of the other reviews that this series didn't feel as cohesive as some of Burns' other films but it was still a really good one. I thought the narration and interviews had a more "scripted feel" to them. Another small gripe was that although I enjoyed the music (especially the guitar-work) I wish there was more variety. I wish they had recorded more music for this specific film so that songs weren't reused as much. It didn't detract from the film all that much though. And there is still quite a bit.
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153 of 170 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good-enough content, poor HD December 10, 2009
Format:Blu-ray
Although the series suffers somewhat from repetitiveness occasioned by the need to keep re-orienting viewers as multiple story sequences are interrupted for long periods of time while first one, then another, thread is begun, I am glad that I was patient enough to view the entire collection. If you like Ken Burns's thorough and somewhat laid-back style, you will find it agreeable here as in his other series, even if this is not quite his best effort. One should bear in mind that this is primarily an historical documentary, not a travelogue or guide to the parks.

In terms of content, I'd probably give the series four stars; but I was disappointed in the video quality of the new motion-picture footage that Burns's photographers accumulated over six years of hard and dedicated work. I believe that a fundamentally wrong decision was made in the choice of medium. Burns has a love of old-style photography, and the many stunning examples of still photos were a joy to behold. I also agree with him that film is a more pleasing medium than direct-to-video. Unfortunately, it would appear that budget limitations (and perhaps portability considerations as well, as photographers were slogging through wilderness) precluded the use of 35mm film, which would have been ideal. Instead, a decision was made (by whom I have no idea) that 16mm film would be the next best thing. This is the point at which I would have decided to use direct video. Even though it may be a little lacking in warmth compared with film, there is only so much grain that I am willing to put up with in a hi-def production. My consumer-grade HD camcorder makes much clearer and cleaner video than is seen in this series.

There are a couple of points to be made in favor of the Blu-ray version, however.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Ideas Are Often Hard Fought October 2, 2009
Format:Blu-ray
I have always been in awe when visiting America's National Parks. Like most people, I take these wonders for granted, never had a good understanding of how they came to being. This documentary, though it contains breathtaking scenes, isn't all about the ooohhhs and aaahhhhhs of the National Parks. As the title suggests it's America's Best Idea, the documentary builds on how hard fought the idea was, like many great ideas. Most of us know very little about our national treasures. We may know that John Muir fought hard as a conservationist but many may not know that trying to prevent Hetch Hetchy valley from being dammed and flooded took the life out of him. I remember learning Teddy Roosevelt was a Rough Rider in school but never knew the major role he played at conservation and that even he and all his powers as President could only made the Grand Canyon a National Monument. Those of us who enjoy the great outdoors owe it to Muir and Roosevelt and others such as Stephen Mather and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The idea didn't come easy or free and some people put their lives and/or fortunes into making sure that Nature's Majesties are conserved for all to enjoy. Besides the beautiful scenes, the documentary is very informative and educational and a must for those who enjoy America's National Parks. This series would make a very nice addition to one's video collection and a must for those who enjoy the great outdoors.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The National Parks: America's Best Idea
I watched Part 1 of this 6 film series by Ken Burns. It is about Yosemite and Yellowstone. Of course, I have seen both of these National Parks. Read more
Published 1 day ago by James Ronald Colyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent History of the National Parks
The National Parks film by Ken Burns is an important film. In it is the rich tapestry of the beginning of the National Park system. I recommend this film to everyone.
Published 4 days ago by Deborah Richardson
4.0 out of 5 stars informative and why we need to value and keep National park lands
extremely glad to view this information. Also, found the balance of political power insightful too.
When you go to the parks, you know why they need to be preserved.
Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great footage
Excellent quality and very relaxing to watch. I enjoy this movie when I'm winding down and enjoy nature's finest work.
Published 14 days ago by Melissa Burnett
5.0 out of 5 stars Just fantastic
Everyone should watch this series about our National Parks. They are our greatest treasure for every generation, you will be awestruck and amazed about our parks.
Published 17 days ago by Melissa Carl
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent in every way. Wonderful show, great account of history and our most awesome national creation. Do not miss this one.
Published 17 days ago by John H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific!!!
Seeing the beautiful scenes made me want to visit them all. Maybe when I retire I will go on a trip around the country visiting National Parks.
Published 20 days ago by Ralph Saperstein
5.0 out of 5 stars love documentaries by Ken Burns
I have watched many films by Ken Burns and value them all. Being a lover of nature, a visitor to some of this national treasures and grateful for the visionary ones who came before... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Gayatri
5.0 out of 5 stars Ken Burns Classic
One of my favorite Ken Burns films. This one is right up there with Baseball as the best Ken Burns does.
Published 22 days ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars Great American History
Awe inspiring and motivation. Gives you a great appreciation for the foresight and dedication specific individuals had towards the parks. Added multiple parks to my bucket list.
Published 26 days ago by Gregory A Patella
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Ken Burns: National Parks
I hate to say this because now all the Ken Burns aholics out there are gonna scream for the rest of his stuff to be released on blu ray. The answer is.........shhhhhhhh.........the same day as the regular set is coming out October 6
Jul 27, 2009 by Eric Pregosin |  See all 2 posts
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