Written and directed by David A. Beardsley
Hosted by Jim Manley
Emerson: The Ideal In America
Ralph Waldo Emerson was the leading light of a circle that included Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller and Bronson Alcott among others, and whose influence is still alive in the world today. Emerson: The Ideal in America is the first and only video biography of the man who is still America's most quoted author.
Spanning most of the turbulent 19th century, Emerson's life took him from a financially poor but intellectually rich childhood through an education at Harvard to early success as pastor of the Boston's Old Brick Church. But personal tragedy and his own doubts about organized religion set him on a journey of discovery that took him to Europe and deep into the philosophical traditions of the East as well as the West. Through his writings and lectures, he became one of the most influential figures of his time, inspiring presidents and other philosophers. His central message of “the infinitude of the private man” opened the eyes of the men and women who read and heard him to their own unlimited potential.
Emerson remains a vital force today. His belief in the divinity of each person and in the sacredness of nature inform the thought of people who may have never read him directly. His practice of maintaining a journal throughout his life has earned him the title “America's first blogger,” and both the environmental and spiritual movements can trace their origins to him.
In the tradition of Ken Burns's The Civil War, this program makes use of archival footage as well as interviews with Emerson experts. Bay Emerson Bancroft, an Emerson descendant and President of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Memorial Association has called it “a well-told, imaginatively presented and uplifting account of the Emerson's life and the development of his ideas....” The producers hope that this video will help to introduce Emerson to a wider audience and a new generation.