Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time
Explores the life and legacy of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold (A Sand County Almanac) and his land ethic philosophy.
Directed by Ann Dunsky, Steven Dunsky, David Steinke
Produced by Aldo Leopold Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Center for Humans and Nature
Executive Producer: Buddy Huffaker
Editor: Ann Dunsky
Writer: Stephen Most
Narrator/Guide: Curt Meine
Voice of Aldo Leopold: Peter Coyote
Original Score: Tom Disher
[Note: Community screenings of GREEN FIRE can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"Should be mandatory viewing for any student in a natural resource field, indeed for anyone who values nature, wilderness, and wildlife." Dr. Michael Hutchins, Exec. Dir., The Wildlife Society
Note: A 57-minute version of this film is also available. Save by buying both together here.
Aldo Leopold is considered the most important conservationist of the 20th century because his ideas are so relevant to the environmental issues of our time. He is the father of the national wilderness system, wildlife management and the science of ecological restoration. His classic book A Sand County Almanac still inspires us to see the natural world as a community to which we belong.
GREEN FIRE explores Leopold's personal journey of observation and understanding. It reveals how his ideas resonate with people across the entire American landscape, from inner cities to the most remote wild lands. The film challenges viewers to contemplate their own relationship with the land.
GREEN FIRE is the first feature documentary about Aldo Leopold's life and contemporary legacy. It features commentary from conservation leaders including scientists, ranchers, scholars and three of Aldo Leopold's children: Nina, Carl, and Estella. Curt Meine, Leopold's biographer, serves as the on-camera guide, making connections between Leopold's ideas and their expression in the conservation movement today. Peter Coyote gives voice to the Leopold's brilliant writing.
Grade Level: 7 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2015
Copyright Date: 2011
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-531-9
"This beautiful, moving, and inspiring film reminds us that the man we most remember for the land ethic was also a father of wilderness protection, ecological restoration, and our whole consciousness about what he called our hardest task - the ability to live on a piece of land without spoiling it."
Amory B. Lovins, Co-founder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
"Green Fire clarifies the enormous debt we owe Leopold. It beautifully reveals his lasting contributions to environmentalism and, in Leopold's spirit, challenges us to see the preciousness and interconnectedness of all life."
Paul Wapner, Professor of Global Environmental Politics Program, American University, Co-editor, Global Environmental Politics: From Person to Planet
"Green Fire...should be mandatory viewing for any student in a natural resource field, indeed for anyone who values nature, wilderness, and wildlife...This film is a fine tribute to Leopold's legacy...Green Fire will contribute to people's appreciation of this amazing man and his role in the history of the conservation movement."
Dr. Michael Hutchins, Executive Director/CEO, The Wildlife Society
"I love this film. I have used it with my students and they love it too. The story never flags, and it is a great story indeed."
James Gustave Speth, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School, Author, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
"I'm a long-time fan of Aldo Leopold's words, but Green Fire contains a lot of new material to me about the man, his biography, and his place in environmental history. For a course, the film would be fabulous when used in conjunction with Leopold's writings, because it whets the appetite for the words by providing wonderful personal background for students."
Tyler Volk, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, New York University, Author, CO2 Rising: The World's Greatest Environmental Challenge
"Aldo Leopold was the most important American environmental thinker of the 20th century, and Green Fire is a radiant portrait of Leopold's life and work. But its more important accomplishment is to suggest that Leopold may just be the most important environmental thinker for the 21st century as well."
Paul S. Sutter, Associate Professor of History, University of Colorado-Boulder, Author, Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement
"Beautifully shot...[A] moving celebration of the pioneering naturalist's legacy."
Candace Smith, Booklist
"Highly recommended...In a world still strongly divided between those aiming toward land subjugation and those insisting on conservation and restoration, his land ethic establishes a strong philosophical basis for environmentalism."
Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State University, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Excellent...In natural and social science classes, the Green Fire DVD can serve as an excellent resource for considering the complex nature of ecosystems and the development of sustainable practices. In social studies classes and in community use, it will be a fine resource for considering the importance and development of informed environmental protection and policy."
Vincent N. Lunetta, Science Books and Films
"Comprehensive, visually compelling and well researched. This is a very 'teachable' film and I look forward to using it in my classes. We see how Leopold catalyzed an advocacy that, today, is leading groups around the world to work for the reintroduction of wolves, sand hill cranes, and other threatened species in places where they were once nearly extinct. We see people reconnecting themselves to practices that are restoring health to agricultural soils and regional watersheds. Green Fire offers tangible evidence that there may still be hope for the achievement of Leopold's most cherished dream-humans might 'evolve' and prove they are capable of living without destroying the land that sustains them."
Joni Adamson, Professor of Environmental Humanities, Department of English, Senior Sustainability Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University
"Exquisite documentary...Teachers across the curriculum can use this film. It's inspirational."
Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, School Library Journal
"I view Aldo Leopold with a respect that borders on reverence, and the film details why. It is comprehensive, well researched, very informative, and relies on superb commentators and interviews."
Noah Hall, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Wayne State University, Founder, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, Author, Great Lakes Law blog
"A compelling documentary...A thoughtful presentation of one man's profound and influential realization of the earth as an organism made up of the interrelationships between land, water, plants, animals and people. Leopold's work as a pioneer of wilderness preservation, game management, and environmental philosophy is developed at a lively pace through captivating historical footage and interviews with family members and a variety of scholars. Leopold's ultimate conclusion, that people can live on the earth without spoiling it, is revealed to be an empowering possibility rather than an empty platitude."
Nancy C. Unger, Professor of History, Santa Clara University, Author, Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History
"By looking into the life of this man who was a hunter, forester, scientist, writer, and philosopher, who found value in both wilderness and human-formed spaces, whose wife came from a long line of ranchers, and who emphasized the benefits of holistic ecosystem management for the good of society, we can begin to see how we might utilize Leopold's land ethic for the betterment of ourselves and our planet."
Cherice bock, Whole Terrain
"As a long-time admirer of Aldo Leopold and someone who has taught The Sand County Almanac, I have been looking forward eagerly to seeing Green Fire...I'm happy to say, I was not disappointed!...I hope similar presentations of the film can be made at schools and colleges and to groups around Iowa and the U.S."
Robert F. Sayre, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Iowa, Author, Fire Island Past, Present, and Future: The Environmental History of a Barrier Beach
"It takes viewers to the places that inspired, transformed, and nudged the author's doctrine into something that ties the concept of a land ethic to each of us. And into something that still offers hope and invites action."
Pamela Biery, Sierra Club
"This film is a historical biography, but it sits comfortably within the space of a social action film...I would recommend this film for introductory college courses in environmental sciences, as well as high school science and biology courses."
Troy Belford, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Anthropology Review Database
"Aldo Leopold is venerated as the father of ecology. But how did Leopold develop his philosophy of a 'land ethic?' To find out, this excellent film, Green Fire , takes us on a journey from Aldo Leopold's boyhood observations of the natural world to domination of that world in his position as a forester to a new and revolutionary appreciation of the interconnectedness of all living things - Leopold's 'Land Ethic'."
Polly Walker, MD, MPH, Senior Fellow, The Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
"A beautiful film. That word really sums it up: beautiful. Not only for the gorgeous on-site places where Green Fire was filmed, but even more so for the content of Aldo Leopold's message of a land ethic that comes across so well here. And while the film takes us back to Leopold's time and career in the early Twentieth Century, with excellent interviews of historians and other scholars who have studied his work in depth, the message that his land ethic ideals are for OUR time, now, rings clear. Nothing could be more true, and nothing could be better emphasized."
Dr. Sterling Evans, Professor and Chair of History, University of Oklahoma, Author, Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains
Language options: English (SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese
2 bonus features
"A Sand County Almanac: A Conservation Classic" [9:52]
"Leopold's Children: Living the Land Ethic" [26:34]
Host a community screening
The Film's Website
The Aldo Leopold Foundation
Center for Humans and Nature
U.S. Forest Service
Awards and Festivals
Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary, Chicago/Midwest Chapter
CINE Golden Eagle Award
Best Film: Story and Production, Waimea Ocean Festival
Best Cinematography, Duke City DocFest, Albuquerque
Archie Carr Award, Cinema Verde Environmental Film Festival
Special Jury Award, Vision/Voices, Eckerd College Environmental Film Festival
Finalist, Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Ekofilm, Czech Republic
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Bioneers Film Series
Guadalajara International Film Festival
Auroville Eco Film Festival, India
Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival, New Zealand
Wild and Scenic Film Festival
American Conservation Film Festival
Ojai Film Festival
San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
San Francisco Green Film Festival
Frozen River Film Festival
Docutah International Film Festival
Napa Valley Film Festival
Life Sciences Film Festival, Prague, Czech Republic
Black Bear Film Festival
Big Bear Lake Film Festival
Colorado Environmental Film Festival
Green Mountain Film Festival
Whaleback Environmental Film and Art Festival
Black Earth Film Festival
Driftless Film Festival, WI
Cedar Rapids Area Environmental Film Festival
Humans and Nature
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"Nicely crafted. It weaves together several story lines from scholars and family members, with a series of Leopold's personal revelations...The research and production values that went into the film are first-rate, and the insights well worth a viewing."
Craig Miller, KQED News
"I recommend it without reservation...Watching the film, it becomes clear how history can produce, in a kind of forge of events, the human beings that, literally, change the way we see the world."
Hal Herring, Field and Stream
"Highly recommended, especially for public and college library DVD collections."
Midwest Book Review