'National Parks' project by Burns puts focus on America

PASADENA — Ken Burns' long journey to capture the majesty and mystery of the national parks for his latest documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," started in 2003 at Yosemite National Park.

Burns, who spent six years in 58 national parks to film what he calls "the most beautiful landscapes on the planet," was only aware of Yosemite through documentation like Ansel Adams' photographs and the writings of park advocate John Muir.

The much-honored filmmaker, with the odd, Beatles-like haircut, discussed the new documentary in August at The Langham Huntington.

The luxury hotel was a big change for Burns who, along with fellow producer and series writer Dayton Duncan and Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson, spent the last few months traveling to parks to promote the documentary.

His message has been the same since the first day he entered Yosemite and, as he put it, his jaw dropped. Going from an outside observer to experiencing the park touched Burns deeply.

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