Join Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their harrowing journey past the majestic peaks of the Bitterroot Mountains to the roaring rapids of the Columbia River in Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West, a new film opening this week at the Phipps IMAX Theater in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Produced by National Geographic Television and Film, Lewis & Clark follows the Corps of Discovery's historic trip across the West to the Pacific Ocean. Launched in 1804 at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson, the party covered 8,000 miles in 28 months in search of a passage to the Northwest.
"It is the ultimate story of exploration and discovery," says Erica Immucci, the docudrama's associate producer. "We hope to bring it to life for people."
Through reenactments, Lewis & Clark details the tribulations that the group faced, including bitter winter storms, starvation and tense negotiations with hostile Native Americans. The film also presents the journey's joys, such as the discovery of hundreds of new species and the triumph the explorers must have felt upon finally reaching the Pacific Ocean. "We hope that this film can really give Americans an idea of what these men, woman and child went through," says Immucci. "These images are so big that they really place you inside the story."
With footage gathered in nine states, Immucci notes, the biggest challenge in filming was finding locations along the trail that haven't been touched by the modern world. "The hardest part was finding places in America that don't have roads, train tracks, power lines," she says. "They are out there, but it sure was difficult."
Narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, Lewis & Clark also details the assistance provided by numerous Native American tribes, focusing mainly on Sacagawea, the teenage Indian interpreter who brought her infant son along on the expedition. "A lot of us forget that this land had already been explored by the Native Americans; they had been there for thousands of years," says Immucci, adding that National Geographic solicited several Native American advisors to help re-create tribal ceremonies. "Accuracy is of the utmost importance to us. We wanted to make sure that the Native Americans were portrayed properly."