Sacred Planet (10/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

When I owned citrus groves throughout Riverside County, one was located in Horsethief Canyon, which, at that time, was a wild section of Southwest Riverside County nestled up to the Cleveland National Forest. The area was inundated with rattlesnakes.  So many, in fact, that whenever the old caretaker who had been there since Junipero Serra was trudging up and down the Coast, Sam Bishop, would kill a rattlesnake he would put the rattle around his rear view mirror. By the end of each summer he had so many rattles of snakes he had killed that it was hard to see out the windshield. Samís Cutoff, a street in the bustling community of Horsethief Ranch is named after old Sam.

Aware of this, I never ventured into my grove without wearing boots that covered my ankles. Often there was so much foliage on the ground that when I went in to pick avocadoes or grapefruit the leaves were up to my ankles. I was always concerned about stepping on a rattler.

In Sacred Planet, there are many scenes of native peoples who live deep in the still primordial jungle traipsing in search of food. Not only did they not wear my ankle-covering boots, they didnít wear much of anything! Loin cloths, thatís it. Not only did nothing cover their ankles, they were completely barefoot! And they were in the midst of unrestrained nature, snakes and other deadly creatures abounding, with so much foliage on the ground you couldnít see bare dirt if your life depended on it. These scenes made a personal impact on me because of the way I thought I had to protect myself. People who live in harmony with nature have nothing to fear from it.

Written, produced and directed by Jon Long, with co-writer Karen Fernandez Long, this Disney production is magical. My only criticism of it is, hold on to your hats, at 45 minutes, itís too short! I never thought Iíd say that about a movie, but the cinematography is spellbinding. When viewed in an IMAX theater with itís 8-story high screen, itís hypnotic.

Iíve never seen more magnificent shots of the earth we inhabit. The music is wonderful. Thereís one song with drums beating jungle rhythms that is worth buying the CD by itself.

Sacred Planet takes the viewer through the last remaining old growth forests of British Columbia, the snowy peaks and glaciers of Alaska, the red rock canyons of Utah and Arizona, the tropical jungles and underwater wonders of Borneo, to Thailand, Namibia, and New Zealand. We meet the indigenous peoples who live in the wilds as their ancestors have since before time was counted. The shots of the faces of the elders and the children, ingenuously staring into the camera are touching and unforgettable.

The film closes on a shot of a burgeoning forest on the background with trees felled by man in the foreground and Narrator Robert Redford making a comment on the fact that only man can destroy this wonderful planet, which was a gift to us. Everyone should see this film, especially those who burn or cut down trees that are our planetís lifeblood.

April 17, 2004

The End