July 30, 2020  (Web Review)

Discoveries America...National Parks: Texas, New Mexico & Arizona

(2020) 56 min. DVD: $24.95. Bennet-Watt (www.bennett-watt.com). ISBN: 978-1-60490-218-1.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Texas, New Mexico & Arizona

Filmmakers Kelly and Jim Watt continue their “Discoveries America…” series with tours of a set of southwestern national parks and their attractions, most of which (with the exception perhaps of New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns and Gila cliff dwellings) are agreeably off the beaten track of tourism topics. In Texas, Big Bend National Park, Chamizal National Memorial, and Guadelupe Mountains are among the border parks along the Rio Grande; much of history here involves the US-Mexican border and the fateful Mexican-American War of the 1800s that carved it out (echoes of which continue in the border issues of today). Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona cues a disquisition on the strange natural history of the saguaro cactus (one of the many rangers interviewed goes into detail about what desert flora are edible and what are poisonous). Scenics are splendid, though filming in natural light, often against the sun, leaves more than one of the talking heads in shadow. Interestingly, the prolific filmmakers do not deploy the now-ubiquitous camera-drones to get footage (possibly because many National Parks forbid their use for all but official business), so the splendor must be enjoyed at ground level. A solid addition to travel and outdoor shelves. Recommended. Aud: E, J, H, C, P. (C. Cassady)