Coming to PBS’s American Experience this coming Tuesday, January 24:
American Experience (January 2017)
A portrait of the woman whose writing popularized the environmental movement.
Rachel Carson was a marine biologist working for the US Fish and Wildlife Services when she began to combine her lifelong love of writing with an interest in making science accessible, penning articles for the likes of READER’S DIGEST. Eventually, she transitioned to becoming a full-time author, after her second book, THE SEA AROUND US, became a best-seller and National Book Award Winner. While this and the other books in her sea trilogy changed the way readers viewed the oceans and the life they sustained, Carson affected the most significant change in public perception with SILENT SPRING, her 1962 book exposing the hidden dangers of pesticides like DDT, which had been unquestioningly embraced by the US government since WWII as part of a shortsighted view of “better living through chemistry.” Ferrari hews close to the standard American Experience format in this illuminating if conventionally constructed profile, reviewing her subject’s accomplishments through narration as well as talking head commentary from Carson biographers. The film also relates Carson’s pseudo-lesbian relationship with Dorothy Freeman and her struggle with cancer which claimed the author’s life less than two years after her groundbreaking book’s publication, which remains a cornerstone of environmental awareness to this day.