PRAISE FOR THE FILM
I was dazzled. I am so inspired by this man and moved by the care and respect you gave him. You were generous with space and time, but clearly in control of the story and the best rhythms to use telling it. I have a new respect for documentary filmmaking as a very delicate art indeed. — DSM, Charlotte, VT
Today I received the DVD and I have to say that the movie is absolutely wonderful. I will watch it again and again to enjoy the calm pictures, the fantastic landscape (how magical it is there), and the very sympathetic Bernd Heinrich speaking. You have created a movie of a very high artistic level and I thank you so much! — SM, Germany
ON WRITING (6:05)
GEESE ON “BEAVER BOG” (1:42)
This following clip is an impressionistic record of a morning on the pond at Bernd’s home in Hinesburg. It is not in the film as presented here but some of the shots are used in another scene in the film.
“AN UNCOMMON CURIOSITY: at home & in nature with BERND HEINRICH” follows Bernd Heinrich, one of the world’s most insightful and original biologists, over the course of a year as he reflects on his past and shares his ideas about nature, science, art, beauty, and writing. Heinrich has been both a Guggenheim Fellow and a Harvard Fellow, and has been awarded two honorary doctorates. Considered by many to be today’s finest naturalist author, Heinrich has written 18 books on various aspects of the natural world and published numerous scholarly papers, professional book reviews, book chapters, and articles for magazines and newspapers as diverse as the New York Times, Outside and Runners World. In addition to his scholarly work he is a world-class ultramarathoner currently holding a U.S. 100-mile track record.
In a New York Times book review, David Quammen wrote that Heinrich “is no ordinary biologist. He’s the sort who combines formidable scientific rigor with a sense of irony and an unslaked, boyish enthusiasm for his subject . . . He has a rare ability to embed dense scientific explications within graceful, light-footed nature writing . . . The mind of Bernd Heinrich is a big antic thing, like a raven, and meant to live outdoors.”
The film doesn’t just re-examine ground Heinrich has already covered in his writings but is a unique record of a year in nature with one of the preeminent naturalists of our time. Filming has been done primarily at Heinrich’s home in Vermont and at his cabin in Maine.
The style of the film mirrors the way in which Heinrich conducts his scientific experiments. He describes his approach to research as “seeing little opportunities that seem interesting and going from there . . . [I like to] keep mostly low to the ground and then look up now and then.” The film proceeds in a similar manner and captures not only the beauty of the external world that Heinrich inhabits but also the exquisite workings underlying it.
The film concludes with Heinrich making the case for why biology matters and how it can help humans better understand their place in nature. One of the best hopes for the restoration of our damaged earth lies in a mass awakening of humanity to the wonder and beauty of this creation and an appreciation of our place within it. Heinrich, with his profound love of nature, penetrating mind and gift for conveying his insights, is an inspiring figure offering us a way back to a nature we must once again know and love.
The film, shot in high-definition video, is available in DVD format. (60 min.) 2011.
BERND HEINRICH SELECTED BOOKS
The Nesting Season, Harvard University Press, 2010
The Summer World, HarperCollins, 2008
The Snoring Bird, HarperCollins, 2007
The Geese of Beaver Bog, HarperCollins, 2004
Winter World, HarperCollins, 2003
Why We Run, HarperCollins, 2001
Mind of the Raven, HarperCollins, 1999
The Trees in my Forest, HarperCollins, 1997
A Year in the Maine Woods, Addison & Wesley,1994
An Owl in the House, Little, Brown & Co., 1990
Bumblebee Economics, Harvard University Press, 1979
“Arguably today’s finest naturalist author…our latter-day Thoreau.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“The Snoring Bird…show[s] readers why the work of an observant field biologist still matters.”
New York Times Book Review
“Some of Heinrich’s most lyrical writing…the future scientist as a footloose nature boy.”
The Washington Post
“The Trees In My Forest is an engaging primer on the complex biological economics of the woods themselves…It’s a quiet walk in stately woods…In Heinrich’s hands, the lives of trees are as noble and as dramatic as the lives of men.” Wall Street Journal
“He writes with a graceful lyricism…to attract many general readers of natural history.”
New York Times
“These passionate observations of a place ‘where the subtle matters and the spectacular distracts’ superbly mix memoir and science.”
Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor, Harvard University
“This is an amazing book by an amazing author. Heinrich is a scientist and naturalist of the first rank, champion ultramarathoner, woodsman of skills seldom seen in modern times, and not least. . . a nature writer of uncommon talent.
Jean Craighead George, award-winning author of Julie of the Wolves
“…extraordinary…a memoir of fun, daringness and intellectual curiosity, the heartwarming evolution of a modern biologist.”
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, anthropologist and author of the bestseller The Hidden Life of Dogs
“…I couldn’t leave its pages…it has joined the small collection of my most favorite books…”
Tom Seeley, professor of biology, Cornell University
“I have read Bernd’s book and find that it is captivating, for it sheds light not only on the mind of the raven, one of the most intelligent creatures in nature, but also on the mind of Bernd Heinrich, one of the most insightful and original biologists on earth.”
John Alcock, author of Sonoran Desert Summer
“Bernd Heinrich writes with great authority and enthusiasm about the union of curiosity and science. The result is a wonderfully entertaining book about ravens and the excitement of discovery.”
Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, department of biological sciences, Stanford University
“Fascinating science and brilliant writing. Bernd Heinrich has done it again.