Building a partnership between nature and human culture in natural history film
Hillman, Paul Bishop.
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The term "nature" can be defined in a variety of ways supporting very different views on how humans should interact with the natural world. The "ambiguity" inherent in the definition of nature promotes a variety of different applications for the concept of nature, particularly in relation to natural history films. Many natural history films aim to promote awareness and respect for the natural world. The majority of current nature documentaries, however, seem to define nature as an object and employ techniques that actually perpetuate a harmful dichotomy between nature and human culture. The intent of my thesis film, Henry Wood Elliott: Defender of the Fur Seal, is to break down this dichotomy and promote an alternative definition of nature. The definition that I attempt to portray encompasses both nature and human culture in a partnership, a definition of "nature as everything." Through subject matter and specific methods of filmmaking, Henry Wood Elliott: Defender of the Fur Seal attempts to increase the connections between wildlife and humans, and natural resources and human use of those resources, to promote sustainability for both nature and human culture. Past films about the northern fur seal are discussed in terms of the methods and tools employed that encourage and demonstrate the division between nature and culture. A subsequent analysis of Henry Wood Elliott: Defender of the Fur Seal highlights its attempts to build the partnership between the natural world and human context.