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I bought this VHS tape in the early 90s at the Virgin Atlantic
Megastore in San Francisco, and really wasn't sure what to expect of
it. It was the proverbial "blind buy", so to speak. But, I figured
since it was regarding the National Geographic Society it had to be
And so it was. This is a very nice retrospective on the history of the
Society. The film relates the Societies origins, some background
history of its first publications, and the major historic landmarks it
has both covered and participated in.
I personally found it heart warming. It reminded me of the sense of
discovery that was once keenly felt prior to the days of instant
information. There was a sense of exploration that the reader
experienced as they either turned the pages of the magazine or watched
one of the National Geographic Specials on broadcast television. The
world, though known, was still unknown to a lot of non-explorers. The
original journal and specials took us to real places on the face of the
Earth, and imbued us with a sense of discovery.
And that's really what this film is about. The sense of discovery that
the National Geographic Society has brought us throughout the century
plus of its existence. The film merely brings us the back-story and
highlights, it doesn't delve into the specific topics that the National
Geographic Society has covered.
The National Geographic Society itself has evolved from a purely
geographic and geopolitical science journal to an organization that
explores all aspects of science and nature, including political science
(as it is one of the branches of science) as it pertains to the worlds'
geographic makeup. The society itself, again with specials and journal,
have even taken us to the Moon and beyond. I still have my old
astronomy issues (and then some).
As for viewer suitability, one should note that the old joke about
young boys buying National Geographic to see topless natives is
addressed in this special, so, the more cautious parent might want to
screen the special before showing their child (parent depending). The
immodesty shown is done in the tradition of National Geographic; not
expository for the sake of it, but for the sake of education.
I personally love this film, and recommend it to anyone who grew up on
National Geographic specials, or who has a fondness for the magazine.
Regrettably, at the time of this writing it's not yet available on DVD,
and doesn't look likely to be. But, the VHS tape is still available at
the official National Geographic website.
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