Alone in the Wilderness
A recent video by Erik Grankvist documents him spending a year, building a log cabin in the woods of Sweden. On seeing this, I was reminded of an old documentary I loved called Alone in the Wilderness – which follows Richard Proenneke, and his hand-constructed cabin in Alaska.
What’s remarkable about Proenneke’s story is the fact that he undertook this endeavor in the 1970’s, and also documented his process using 8mm film and daily journal entries.
To me, this documentary is one of several fantastic PBS moments I had, while a graduate student at The Ohio State University. I didn’t have cable, YouTube wasn’t a thing yet for at least another 6-8 years, and PBS was on all the time.
I was so moved by this documentary, I ended up buying a copy of it on DVD. That copy is lost in a storage box somewhere, but I do think of it with great fondness.
Below are two portions of the documentary, that should give you a sense of the tone and flavor of Proenneke’s documentary style. While his hand-constructed cabin is an amazing feat, what’s even more amazing is that he spent most of the next 30 years living on his own there.
It’s odd to think of Proenneke now, more than a year into the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have remained inside our homes, not able to go outside or be around people. And contrasting that with being wholly in the wilds of Alaska, more or less outside all the time – able to go absolutely anywhere at all, but there being no one else around.