Yosemite:The Fate of Heaven


In the spring of 1851, while pursuing Indians into the Sierra Nevadas, a company of California militiamen suddenly came upon a breathtaking, unexplored valley. they were the first outsiders to see this valley of Yosemite in its unspoiled, natural state—and they would be the last. Before the end of the year, the Indians were driven from their homes, their villages burned, and the way paved for settlers.

Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven, by award-winning filmmaker Jon Else, looks back on the conquest of this primeval wilderness more than a century ago, using as narration the 1851 diary by Lafayette Bunnell. At the same time, the film looks at the sharp contrast which is Yosemite today, when our preeminent national park is sagging under the weight of three million annual visitors and 25,000 pounds of garbage a day.

Present-day Yosemite, with all its joys and horrors, is seen through the eyes of those who struggle day after day to preserve its beauty—the rangers, trail builders, fire fighters and naturalists, as well as the backpackers, climbers and skiers who revel in the park’s grandeur. An eighty-seven-year-old naturalist and guide recalls the tumultuous demonstrations in the park during the 1970s and looks ahead to the possibility of Yosemite restored to its original glory.

Screening Details

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