Burns's documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea offers compelling portraits of “American originals,” including John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Stephen Mather, and Horace Albright. It offers breathtaking “god's-eye” views of national park landscapes. It offers fascinating biographies of Yellowstone and Yosemite, in particular the enduring tension between processes of preservation and commercialization. However, there were missed opportunities to focus on so-called historic sites, to inform viewers of the many enduring threats to the “park idea,” and to help viewers appreciate the creative potential of this idea in a new century.

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