Movie Reviews

Spirit of Yosemite – Yosemite National Park’s Visitor’s Center Film on DVD

Walk into just about any of our National Parks and you’ll find at least one video playing in the Visitor’s Center.  Spirit of Yosemite is a DVD copy of the film that is played in the Visitor’s Center of Yosemite National Park.

Spirit of Yosemite is not a travelogue. It’s meant to deliver an overview of the park to visitors and whet the appetite for what one can see on a visit.  The idea is to get people to venture beyond the immediate area of the visitor’s center by baiting them with stunning imagery of what’s out there. To that end, this really succeeds.

Presented in widescreen, I found this to be gorgeous on my portable DVD player but awe-inspiring when I viewed it on my large screen television.  The cinematography here is absolutely beautiful, opening with shots of nature that on my blu-ray player upscaling the DVD for my widescreen HD television really showed its capabilities.

The scenery was mostly filmed during the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM to get the most out of the natural lighting.  Using speed to show sunrise, sunset, clouds traveling across the sky, and the shadow-play of a typical day at Yosemite, this gives the feeling of Yosemite as a living place.

Spirit of Yosemite highlights many of the common images of Yosemite National Park and does give a short narrative with some history.  Images of the great sequoias are accompanied by the narrative that they weren’t discovered by the outside world until the 1850s.  There is some history of how the area was formed over the centuries with heat and ice carving out the mountains and valleys.

The running time of this is a bit misleading.  The main feature is not 55 minutes, but more like a half hour. The special features might bring it up to that long. They are obviously designed to be played in a loop as background and possibly are elsewhere in the visitor’s center.  In fact, there is a looping feature on the DVD which is indicative of its intended audience.

Spirit of Yosemite is a good DVD, but it strikes me as something that would be purchased by someone who visited the park and wanted a keepsake as part of their memories.  As beautiful as this is, there are better DVDs out there for travel information.  It’s also a bit pricey compared to other similar travel shows or documentaries. Still, if you’re buying this you are helping to support our National Parks which is always a good thing. I’m not sorry I watched it, but it’s not something I would feel the need to have to watch again and again.


• Introduction to the Yosemite Fund
• 2005 Yosemite Falls Restoration
• Yosemite Valley Waterfalls
• Big Trees
• Yosemite High Country

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