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October 25, 2013
From the day that a 14-year-old Ansel Adams first saw the transcendent beauty of the Yosemite Valley, his life was, in his words, "colored and modulated by the great earth-gesture of the Sierra." Few American photographers have reached a wider audience than Adams, and none has had more impact on how Americans grasp the majesty of their continent. In this elegant, moving and lyrical portrait of the most eloquent and quintessentially American of photographers, producer Ric Burns seeks to explore the meaning and legacy of Adams' life and work. At the heart of the film are the great themes that absorbed Adams throughout his career: the beauty and fragility of "the American earth," the inseparable bond of man and nature, and the moral obligation the present owes to the future.
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On a blazing summer day in 1916, a teenager named Ansel Adams first encountered the awesome beauty of Yosemite Valley. "From that day," he later wrote, "my life has been colored and modulated by the great earth-gesture of the Sierra." This youthful awakening to the sublime power of the wilderness was the beginning of a lifelong journey for Adams -- a quest in which he would discover the power of photography to reveal mankind's place in the natural world. His work was part of an extraordinary revolution in photography that sought to capture what Adams called "the continuous beauty of things that are," the landscape of the North American continent. More than any other artist of the twentieth century, Adams helped transform the meaning of wilderness in America; his greatest images of the American West changed forever what Americans thought about their own land.

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