Nat Geo Wild sent me 3 preview discs of their documentary Wild Mississippi. It's pretty to look at and about as accurate as a Wikipedia article. Filmmakers supposedly followed the Mississippi for a year to see what it does and how it interacts with wildlife and people. I was excited about this because I work for the Mississippi National River and Recreation area and I knew that producers had called our park for info and that the film crew went up with the pilot we use for duck surveys. I was hoping that viewers would get to see the Upper Mississippi the way we do when we do our fall duck surveys.
I was disappointed.
I will say there is some great footage in there. The underwater footage of mussels, the shots of eagles, the wild animals and...the great gray owls. Wait...what? Great gray owls in a documentary about the Mississippi River? Who the what with huh?
Above is a screen shot from the review of Wild Mississippi from the New York Times of the filmmakers getting footage of the owls. Let me say again, that the footage is awesome but saying this is what happens along the Mississippi River in winter is inaccurate. I would expect more from National Geographic. Also I have to wonder if that owl was baited for that shot? And this was taken up at Sax Zim Bog, this was posted on the Friends of Sax Zim Bog Facebook Page today:
"This episode will feature some Great Gray footage shot in Sax-Zim Bog last winter...Filmmakers Neil & Laura Rettig shot on the coldest day of the year in Sax-Zim... Minus 36 degrees! They spent about a week filming.
Some of their Great Gray footage shot along McDavitt Road and CR133 will be included tonight.
Their super slow motion footage shot on Creek Road of another Great Gray Owl will be shown next year in another production...I will keep you posted!"
Point A on the above Google Map is Sax Zim Bog. Point B is the Mississippi water...about 50 miles straight over...well, if you look at the Mississippi watershed, yeah great grays can be found that but the narrator actually states, "Great gray owls hunt the frozen Mississippi all winter long."
I would recommend watching this documentary on mute. It would save you on some of the over dramatic narration...although maybe with a beer it will give you good laugh. Like when the narrator talks about eagle gathering on the river to eat the migrating coots (which magically turn in to ring-neck ducks in some shots) and says, "The Mississippi becomes a river of BLOOD!"
Here's a sample (the guy sounds like he's trying awful hard to be Sam Elliot): See what I mean--super cool footage, super cheesy narration.
I also had to question a scene in particular during one of the other episodes titled "Raging Waters." A camera is in a wood duck nest box and the ducklings hatch and begin their jump to the ground to the music of Ride of Valkyries. Boy that seemed familiar, where have I seen that before, oh yeah, that's right the 2005 film by Steve Furman Ride of the Mergansers.
I think several crews went out to grab great footage of the Mississippi in a year and then the writers and producers changed several hands and screwed up royally. It's not coherent, it's not accurate and it doesn't mention my park but it is pretty to watch but boy is the footage amazing to watch.
Oh and for those interested, I also got an email that the footage of wolves and coyotes were staged with the animals at The Wildlife Science Center. The filmmakers did something I totally would have done, they stuck one of their cameras inside a deer carcass to get some up close crunching sounds of wolves. Best part is one of the wolves tries to eat the camera.