Friday, September 23, 2011

180° South

I've watched a beautiful documentary several times now called 180° South. It features a man named Jeff Johnson narrating a trip he takes to Patagonia, a region of Argentina and Chile. Johnson was inspired by two men, Yvon Chouinard and Douglas Tompkins, who took a similar trip to Patagonia in the late '60s. Following Johnson's travels you get to see some of the most gorgeous, untouched open country in existence. Johnson's narration reveals a person passionate about the environment and travel coupled with a wonderful fearlessness and sense of freedom. His passions are surfing and rock climbing, so the documentary is full of footage of some amazing surf and seemingly completely vertical, totally smooth mountains. Over the course of the documentary, you are introduced to Chouinard and Tompkins, two really amazing men. Chouinard is a famous outdoorsman who began the well-known clothing and outdoor supply company, Patagonia. Tompkins, also a famous outdoorsman, began The North Face and ESPRIT Clothing Company, but now he devotes his time and resources to buying up land in Patagonia in an effort to preserve the area. Tompkins and his wife Kris have conserved nearly 2 million acres of mostly grasslands in Patagonia.

What I love about this documentary is that it does not have a blatant envioronmental message. It's really about one man's travels and his thoughts along the way. The beauty he sees is in real danger largely because of increasing development and he definitely addresses it, but I never felt there was any kind of agenda in mind. The reason I've watched it so many times is really for the scenery - I often put it on in the background as I make dinner and allow myself to be transported to the gorgeous country I hope to see with my own eyes someday. Also, it has an excellent soundtrack including songs by Andrew Bird and Modest Mouse.

Read more about Patagonia (the place as well as the company) here at the library!

Dusk on the Campo: A Journey in Patagonia

Enduring Patagonia

In Patagonia

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman
Written by Yvon Chouinard

Patagonia: Nature's Last Frontier

Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes: A Year Alone in the Patagonia Wilderness

Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin
Famous for his book In Patagonia in which he documents his travels, this is a collection of Chatwin's letters.

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