Review: Elemental: Reimagine Wildfire


With 413 active spring fires raging in cool springtime Canada, of all places, and cutting visibility and breathable air in a good chunk of northeastern America, something has got to be done about the growing fire epidemic. What was once thought an isolated plague in California has been gradually extending to affect all of North America.

One place to look for remarkably researched answers is Trip Jennings (how did he get his first name?). A kayaker, adventurist, conservationist and filmmaker for National Geographic, Trip has blazed a trail of his own with Balance Media Production and filmed tried and true answers to dealing with forest fires. This is the Fire Protection 101 film every household in North America must see.

I live in the Portland, OR, area and this past May we experienced record-breaking temperatures. We have come to fear summer forest fires that are so thick with smoke that the air becomes still and the sun hidden from Canada down through California. Birds and squirrels disappear and dogs insist on staying inside.

We have to buy air purifiers and turn them on high. Ash smothers our garden plants and family, friends and tourists cancel their plans to visit. Outlying towns, closer to the fires, are obliterated and people die.

I don’t remember Seattle or Portland being affected by wildfires up in the mountains prior to the last 10 years. What’s going on?

Jennings has the answers and a menu of solutions, but he starts out debunking the most obvious. Fire-fighting and forest management strategies, where government has put our money, cannot begin to contain the fires of the 21st century that are encouraged by raging winds, droughts and climate change.

Jennings spent years chasing fires, sometimes three fires in one day in the LA area. He has basic fire-fighting equipment and training. During his first year of filming, 2018, the Paradise Fire raged, the deadliest wildfire in California’s history, killing 85 people, leveling 18,800 structures and incinerating 153,000 acres (the size of greater Chicago).

The local hospital staff had to evacuate patients in their own cars without prior notice. A terrified woman videoed her family’s escape with her cell phone. For two weeks the fire was out of control.

After showing his experience and research on the western fires, Jennings investigates the science, construction engineering and indigenous practices that have a potential to save North America.

Jennings backs everything he presents with careful scientific testing and empirical data. As a journalist he has stated that through his own investigation of forest fires, he has completely changed his mind about the correct way to minimize the forest fire threats to humans.

“Elemental: Reimagine Wildfire” is the way documentaries should be made, still exciting, but delivered with impartial research-backed reports, with visual experiences explaining each aspect of the study. Jennings and his crew do a great job, and what you may learn, even if you live in the big city, may save your home and help you support ways to save your state.

Rating: 10/10


Director, Co-Writer and Editor: Trip Jennings
Executive Producer: Ralph Bloemers
Co-Produced and Edited: Sara Quinn
Narrator: David Oyelowo
Featured interviews with: Dr. Beverly Law, Professor Emeritus, Global Change Biology, Oregon State University; Margo Robbins, Yurok, Cultural Advisor; and Dr. Jack Cohen, Research Physical Scientist, US Forest Service (Ret.), Scientific Advisor; among others.
Annimations: Aaron Keuter and Ryan Walsh
Musical Score: Nick Jaina
Release: April 7, 2023, plus global TVOD/Digital Platform & DVD release through Journeyman Pictures (with additional video with David Oyelowo) on June 13, 2023

Official website and how to view:

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