Vilified by the chemical industry as a ï¿½fanatic defender of the cult of the balance of nature,ï¿½ Rachel Carson was no commune-dwelling hippie. A marine biologist whoï¿½d worked at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, she was a prize-winning author when her most famousï¿½and controversialï¿½ book, Silent Spring, was published in 1962. Exposing the health and environmental fallout of pesticide use, the book was attacked as alarmist by such mainstream media as Time and Newsweek.
Unfolding during the year following the release of Silent Spring, A Sense of Wonder is essentially a monologue with scenery. But when the monologue is inspired by Carsonï¿½s writing, which remains fresh and relevant, and shot by Academy Awardï¿½winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, you canï¿½t help but be moved. Kaiulani Leeï¿½s assured performance as Carson anchors the film, which Lee adapted from her stage play of the same name.
This month, which happens to be National Womenï¿½s History Month, the National Womenï¿½s History Project is presenting nationwide screenings of A Sense of Wonder. No question, Carson merits the recognition. Not only was she a single woman supporting both an adopted child and an aged mother. Critics sought to undermine her authority by accusing her of being ï¿½hystericalï¿½ and deriding her ï¿½emotional outburstsï¿½ï¿½barbs they would never hurl at a man.
More information and DVDs are available at asenseofwonderfilm.com.
ï¿½ Amy Spitalnick, Associate Editor