Green Fire Synopsis

Short Synopsis

Aldo Leopold is considered the most important conservationist of the 20th century because his ideas are so relevant to the environmental issues of our time.  He is the father of the national wilderness system, wildlife management and the science of ecological restoration. His classic book A Sand County Almanac still inspires us to see the natural world as a community to which we belong.

Green Fire explores Leopold's personal journey of observation and understanding, It reveals how his ideas resonate with people across the entire American landscape, from inner cities to the most remote wild lands. The film challenges viewers to contemplate their own relationship with the land.

Green Fire is the first feature documentary about Aldo Leopold’s life and contemporary legacy. It features commentary from conservation leaders including scientists, ranchers, scholars and three of Aldo Leopold’s children—Nina, Carl, and Estella.  Curt Meine, Leopold’s biographer, serves as the on-camera guide, making connections between Leopold’s ideas and their expression in the conservation movement today.  Peter Coyote gives voice to the Leopold’s brilliant writing.

Long Synopsis

Aldo Leopold is considered the most important conservationist of the  20th century because his ideas are so relevant to the environmental issues of our time.  He is the father of the national wilderness system, wildlife management and the science of ecological restoration. His classic book A Sand County Almanac still inspires us to see the natural world as a community to which we belong.

Green Fire explores Leopold's personal journey of observation and understanding, It reveals how his ideas resonate with people across the entire American landscape, from inner cities to the most remote wild lands. The film challenges viewers to contemplate their own relationship with the land.

Green Fire is the first feature documentary about Aldo Leopold’s life and contemporary legacy. It features commentary from conservation leaders including scientists, ranchers, scholars and three of Aldo Leopold’s children—Nina, Carl, and Estella.  Curt Meine, Leopold’s biographer, serves as the on-camera guide, making connections between Leopold’s ideas and their expression in the conservation movement today.  Peter Coyote gives voice to the Leopold’s brilliant writing.

Leopold’s notion of an evolving land ethic provides the backbone of the narrative. It was the organizing idea that defined not only his personal, intellectual, and spiritual growth but in many ways the development of the American conservation and environmental movements over the last century. In particular, Leopold sought to resolve the long-standing (and often divisive) tension between the preservationist and utilitarian strains of conservation thought, policy, and advocacy.

Green Fire also examines the theme of community--both within the natural world and in the social context of conservation. The related themes of sense of place, stewardship, and responsibility derive from Leopold's notion of community and connect his story to creative contemporary expressions of an environmental ethic. His personal journey is part of a still larger, longer-term, and unfinished journey of Americans (and indeed people around the world) as their relationships to the natural world continue to evolve. The contemporary stories woven into the film illustrate Leopold's continuing influence today, while also demonstrating a diversity of human relationships to nature.

Central to the film is the image of the “fierce green fire” that Leopold saw in the eyes of a dying wolf.  In his famous essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,”  Leopold reveals a transformation in his own basic values.  His journey to a new way of looking at the world provides the narrative arc of the film as Curt Meine sets out to explore both the man and his contemporary legacy.