Movie Reviews: Yellowstone stories


I saw two different films related to Yellowstone National Park available on Disney+ so I watched them both in preparation for my trip to Yellowstone.

Title: Yellowstone Cubs
Release Date: June 1, 1963
Director: Charles L. Draper
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions
Summary/Review:

This 45-minute, live action short tells the story of two bear cubs, Tuffy and Tubby, who are separated from their mother. She is marked as a “bad bear” and exiled from the park and then spends the whole summer tracking down her cubs. Meanwhile Tuffy and Tubby cause mayhem like causing a trailer to roll down a hill and take out a tent, stealing a motorboat, and eating all the food left out unattended in the kitchen of the Old Faithful Inn.

It’s pretty clear that domesticated bears were used in making this films, and bear paw props were used for closeups when a paw manipulates a boat engine or a can of whipped cream. To be fair, this movie never claims to be a documentary or even a True Life Adventure, merely a funny story about bear cubs. It is surprising to see the opening credits confirm the involvement of the National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park, and  Montana Game and Wildlife (I guess Wyoming wanted no part of this even though it’s where the movie takes place).

The message of this movie is made clear that feeding wild bears is dangerous for the bears and for human visitors for the park. And yet the folksy narration seems to undercut that with jokes about bears working the passing traffic for handouts (in front of signs prohibiting the feeding of bears). Times have certainly changed since this movie was made and so this movie serves as an odd time capsule rather something anyone should expect from a visit to Yellowstone.

Rating: *


Title: Wild Yellowstone
Release Date: December 3, 2015
Production Company: Brain Farm Digital Cinema
Summary/Review:

This two-part documentary follows much the same structure of the BBC Yellowstone documentary with an episode for winter (“The Frozen Frontier”) and summer (“Grizzly Summer”) focusing on the survival strategies of various animals. Unfortunately, despite some beautiful captures of animals in the wonderland of Yellowstone, the movie takes a sensationalist approach in its narration as well as editing tricks which involve quick cuts among slow-motion and time-lapse.  I give this points for having lots and lots footage of otters as well as treating fights among hummingbirds as dramatically as fights among sheep, elk, and bison.

Rating: **1/2

Documentary Movie Review: Yellowstone (2009) #AtoZChallenge


This is my entry for “Y” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Previous “Y” documentaries I’ve reviewed include Yellowstone: The World’s First National Park and You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

Title: Yellowstone
Release Date: March 2009
Director: [none listed]
Production Company: BBC Natural History Unit | Animal Planet
Summary/Review:

Yellowstone is a three-part nature documentary series filmed in Yellowstone National Park.  The episodes each focus on a season: winter, summer, and autumn (spring gets short shrift but since the snows don’t melt until June, maybe there is no spring).  I think if you drop some decent cinematographers with quality cameras into Yellowstone you’re guaranteed to get a gorgeous film, but nevertheless the visuals in this documentary are absolutely spectacular.  The theme of the series is “The Battle for Life” so it does veer toward overly dramatic narration.

Winter – Yellowstone’s geothermal features and landscape contribute to long, severe winters with heavy snowfall.  Wolves thrive in the winter as they are able to hunt weakened herds of elk. Bison use their heavy heads like a snowplow to search for edible grasses.  A red fox dives through the snow to capture mice.  And in my absolute favorite part, otters practically swim through the snow and use an opening in the ice created by geysers as a place to fish.

Summer – The season sees the emergence of a bear and her cubs. Other animals including pronghorn, bison, and wolves are also birthing young and keeping them alive in dangerous conditions. Cuthroat trout swim upstream to spawn and are hunted by otters and osprey.  Toward the end of the season, bear climb high in the mountains where they feed on army cutworm moths (like blue whales living on krill!).

Autumn – Trees devour their chlorophyll and erupt in gorgeous colors. Whitebark pine cones are spread with the help of squirrels, bears, and Clark’s nutcrackers.  Beavers repair their dams and stock up food for the winter.  Male elk and bighorn sheep fight among themselves for the right to mate with their respective females.  For the first time in the series, we also see humans as the elk and pronghorn migrate to lower ground outside of the park, with the wolves hot on their heels.  The wild animals have to face the dangers of hunters, motor vehicles, industry, and residential development, while ranchers are uneasy about wolves attacking their herds.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Yellowstone: The World’s First National Park (2012) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “Y” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. This is the first”Y” documentary I’ve reviewed.

TitleYellowstone: The World’s First National Park
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Director: Kenny James
Production Company: Mill Creek Entertainment
Summary/Review:

I’m fascinated with Yellowstone National Park, and one day I hope to go there.  This film has low production values and feels like an introductory film for tourists at a park visitor center.  All the same, the film focuses on the stunning landscape of Yellowstone, so the visuals are terrific.  There’s a little bit about the history and flora & fauna of Yellowstone (as well as the Grand Tetons, and surrounding areas), as well as an aerial tour of the park.  But the bulk of the movie is about the geology of Yellowstone, featuring the Yellowstone Caldera, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Artists Paint Pots, and the many geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs.  National Park Service interpreters provide the narration.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

Did you know that the Yellowstone Caldera completely destroyed the portion of the Rocky Mountains range that once passed through where the park is today?  I didn’t!

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

Visit the world’s first national park.  And take me with you!

If you can’t make it, you may enjoy reading Lost in My Own Backyard by Tim Cahill.

Source: I watched this movie on Hoopla Digital.
Rating: **1/2

Book Review: Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Including Jackson Hole by Don Pitcher


AuthorDon Pitcher
TitleMoon Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Including Jackson Hole
Publication Info: Avalon Travel Publishing (2011), Edition: Fifth Edition
ISBN: 1598807366
Summary/Review: I read a couple of travel guides to feed my daydreams of taking my kids to Yellowstone in a few years and enjoyed the armchair tour.  This guide is good in that it describes not only the National Park, but offers an extensive description of fascinating places to visit in the surrounding region.  This of course expands my daydreams to what would be a months long visit to Yellowstone and its environs.

Recommended booksLost in My Own Backyard by Tim Cahill and The Rough Guide to Yellowstone & Grand Teton by Stephen Timblin.
Rating: ***

Book Review: The Rough Guide to Yellowstone & Grand Teton by Stephen Timblin


AuthorStephen Timblin
TitleThe Rough Guide to Yellowstone & Grand Teton
Publication Info: Rough Guides (2011), Edition: 2,
ISBN: 1848367716
Summary/Review: I read a couple of travel guides to feed my daydreams of taking my kids to Yellowstone in a few years and enjoyed the armchair tour.  This guide is good in that it lists of options for hiking in and around Yellowstone.  This of course expands my daydreams to what would be a months long visit to Yellowstone and its environs.

Recommended booksLost in My Own Backyard by Tim Cahill and Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Including Jackson Hole by Don Pitcher
Rating: ***