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A Sense of Wonder

Rachel Carson's love for the natural world and her fight to defend it.


A printer-friendly version of this page 55 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Christopher Monger
Produced by Karen Montogomery, Sense of Wonder Productions LLC
Executive Producer: Kaiulani Lee
Director of Photography: Haskell Wexler, ASC
Editor: Tamara M. Maloney
Sound: Rob Sylvan
Starring Kaiulani Lee as Rachel Carson





"This is the Rachel that I knew, brought to life with almost uncanny skill and understanding." Paul Brooks, Carson's editor and biographer
When pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson published "Silent Spring" in 1962, the backlash from her critics thrust her into the center of a political maelstrom. Despite her private persona, her convictions about the risks posed by chemical pesticides forced her into the role of controversial public figure.

Using many of Miss Carson's own words, actress Kaiulani Lee embodies this extraordinary woman in a documentary style film which depicts Carson in the final year of her life. Struggling with cancer, Carson recounts with both humor and anger the attacks by the chemical industry, the government and the press as she focuses her limited energy to get her message to Congress and the American people.

Beautifully shot in HD by Academy Award®-winning cinematographer, Haskell Wexler, at Carson's cottage in Maine, the film is an intimate and poignant portrait of Carson's life as she emerges as America's most successful advocate for the natural world. Based on Kaiulani Lee's popular play of the same name.

This DVD includes many bonus features including LESSONS FROM CARSON, a 28-minute film directed by Ian Cheney (King Corn and The Greening of Southie), in which contemporary environmental leaders reflect on Carson's life and the challenges ahead -- featuring geneticist and "Nature of Things" host, Dr. David Suzuki; leading expert on the health effects of pollution Dr. Theo Colborn; "Last Child in the Woods" author, Richard Louv; the Center for Food Safety's Andrew Kimbrell; Jay Feldman of Beyond Pesticides; and NRDC co-founder and Dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Gus Speth.



Grade Level: Grades 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2009     Copyright Date: 2008
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-851-1



Reviews
"Anyone who has not had the good fortune to see Kaiulani Lee perform her one woman Rachel Carson show can now have that experience in A Sense of Wonder. As someone who has written about Carson, I deeply admire Lee's capacity to evoke Carson largely through the eloquence of her words, but also by capturing her sensibility. I felt I was in Carson's presence. The DVD has the added benefit of setting Ms Lee/Carson in the cottage on Sheepscott Bay that meant more to Carson than any place on earth. Haskell Wexler makes the `sense of place' real and wondrous."
Mark Lytle, Professor of History and Environmental Studies, Bard College, Author, The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring and the Rise of the Environmental Movement

"A Sense of Wonder reveals the incredibly appealing personality that lay beneath this environmental hero. Actress Kaiulani Lee embodies Carson's spirit as she recreates the author's last visit to her beloved Maine coast with her son. Against this stunning backdrop, Carson reflects on both her role in history and the role all humanity has played in transforming the environment. Rachel Carson's humanity, humor and intelligence are brought to life as she walks the viewer through her personal struggles and environmental battles. Historically accurate and true to Carson's words, this beautifully shot film is a thoughtful exploration of Carson's life, books, and legacy."
Mark Madison, Historian, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

"I spent weeks in the Rachel Carson archives at Yale attempting to conjure, from her letters and personal writings, Carson's life as a cancer patient, a single mother, and an author who worried she wrote too slowly and revised too much. Now, in 55 luminous minutes here she is--speaking these very words. A tour de force performance by actor Kaiulani Lee. All I can say is brava!"
Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies, Ithaca College, Author, Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment andHaving Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood

"This is the Rachel that I knew, brought to life with almost uncanny skill and understanding."
Paul Brooks, Carson's editor at Houghton Mifflin, and author Rachel Carson: The Writer at Work

"You cannot walk away unmoved."
Bill Moyers

"Beautifully filmed...Kaiulani Lee captures the strengths of Carson's convictions, her resolve in overcoming corporate and governmental interests that would suppress the findings of her work, and her tenacity in fighting and winning the first major battle for environmental conservation. Rachel Carson was one strong, capable woman with ample courage and the self-assurance to air the scientific evidence of the impact of pesticides on the biosphere. A Sense of Wonder is highly recommended."
Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State University Libraries, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Christopher Monger brings Kaiulani Lee's one-woman stage show to the screen in this unconventional portrait of environmentalist Rachel Carson...An excellent performance by Lee...Highly recommended."
Video Librarian

"An affecting tribute...Would appeal to students and adults with an interest in preserving nature."
Library Journal

"Extremely well done. Should be an essential title for libraries to have for the 2012 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring. The extra 28-minute piece of commentary is incredible and thought-provoking."
Frederick Stoss, Associate Librarian, Arts and Sciences Libraries, State University of New York University at Buffalo

"As Bill Moyers says on the cover, 'you cannot walk away unmoved.'...It may bring a tear or two to the eye."
Green Teacher

"Carson brought about greater awareness of crucial interconnections between all life forms and the need to protect the environment...[A Sense of Wonder] is appropriate for undergraduates, graduate students, and the general public."
Betty Glass, University of Nevada, Anthropology Review Database


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DVD Features
includes 28-minute film LESSONS FROM CARSON and interviews with Stewart Udall, Carson's adopted son Roger, Kaiulani Lee, and director, Christopher Monger. Also SDH captions and scene selection.

Links
The film's website
Trailer


Awards and Festivals
Vancouver International Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Bioneers Moving Image Film Festival
Maine International Film Festival
Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Camden International Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Festival

Subjects
American Studies
Anthropology
Biography
Ecology
English Literature
Environment
Environmental Ethics
Geography
History
Humanities
Life Science
Oceans and Coasts
Pesticides
Pollution
Sociology
Theater
Toxic Chemicals
Women's Studies


Related Titles

Green Fire
Explores the life and legacy of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold (A Sand County Almanac) and his land ethic philosophy.

Wrenched
Captures the generations of eco-activists, from the 1960s to the present day, inspired by Edward Abbey's passionate defense of wilderness in The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Play Again (New Edition)
What are the consequences of a childhood removed from nature? Six screen-addicted teens take their first wilderness adventure.

The Sacred Balance
4-part series that celebrates the meeting of science and spirit.

Coming Home
Suzuki explores biophilia -- the innate, hereditary need of human beings to affiliate with nature.

Natural Connections
Makes a compelling scientific and ethical case for maintaining biodiversity.

Home Place
Putting the role of human beings in the biosphere back into proper perspective.

Addicted to Plastic
Reveals the history and worldwide scope of plastics pollution, investigates its toxicity and explores solutions.

A Snowmobile For George
A rambunctious road trip reveals the toll that environmental deregulation has had on the lives of ordinary people, including the effects of fracking for natural gas.

Swim for the River
The story of the Hudson, and the battle to save it, are told as Chris Swain swims the entire length of the river.

In Our Own Backyard
First brush the U.S. had with toxic waste at Love Canal.

Toxic Bust
Explores the relationship between breast cancer and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Blue Vinyl
Filmmakers Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold use humor and chutzpah in their search for the environmental truth about vinyl.

Drumbeat for Mother Earth
Toxic chemicals are the greatest threat to the survival of indigenous peoples.

Homeland
Tells the inspiring story of four battles in which Native American activists are fighting to preserve their land, sovereignty, and culture.


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