But Grand Canyon Adventure sparked in me a haunting familiarity with the native people, the early explorers, and modern-day environmental activists. From the opening landscape montages, the entire IMAX dome became a helicopter, a raft being torn by the rapids, and an Anasazi canoe, its inhabitants anxious for rainfall. The at-home effect is emphasized by the familiar music of the Dave Matthews Band.
However, the movie is not just picturesque scenery. The plot follows Wade Davis, anthropologist and writer, and conservationist Robert Kennedy Jr., and their two teen daughters. Kennedy’s perspective in particular is important, as he embarked on this same trip when he was a boy and is now documenting how the Colorado River has changed in the past 40 years. An authentic seal is stamped on the expedition when Anasazi native and river tour guide Shana offers her hypnotic yet relatable point of view on the global phenomenon of the under-appreciation of her people’s life source – water. We also see an example of the intricately engineered stone cliff- dwellings of these ancient Pueblo people, a centuries-old archaeological site. The group’s trip, and the film about it, is awe-inspiring, but also raises important awareness of water management and conservation.
Simply put, the river is thirsty, and Grand Canyon Adventure not only explores the facts surrounding what has diminished this great natural resource of the Southwest, but offers a way that even a nature-lover watching in Richmond can donate or learn more. Go to Grand Canyon Adventure and become touched and humbled by the importance of water and the fantastical nature of perhaps America’s least appreciated treasure. Next, make an effort to connect with our own watery treasure, the James River, flowing through the center of Richmond.
Now showing at The Science Museum of Virginia. ($9 general admission; $5 members.) 40 minutes; recommend for five and up.
Reviewed by Sam Schwartzkopf