Alone in the Wilderness

  • Advertise with us
Review by jjw5858 posted 03-24-2012 10:01 PM 4605 views 2 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Alone in the Wilderness No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

If not for the viewing of this very interesting documentary woodworking may have never gotten into my blood as strong as it has. This documentary is many things in one, part nature hike, part meditation, part woodworking…..and in all parts a wonderful journey of a man that decided to live his life his own way.

Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke (born May 4, 1916 – April 20, 2003) was a retired highly skilled mechanic living in Alaska that took his modest nest egg and decided to make his permant home in Twin Lakes Alaska living in his self built log cabin.

The documentary shows us the entire building of his log home, his amazing woodworking and mechanical skills, and his adventures of survival from morning to night.

His love for the land and lifestyle were so strong he would only visit his family on ocassion in the lower 48, and he lived that lifestyle for over 30 years from his 50’s to his early 80’s.

The skills here…are simply inspiring….country woodwork 101….lol. He makes everything he needs to survive..and does all of this with great skill and super strength. His work was not casual, it consisted of 12 hour days…and then off to catch his dinner…

The film is narrated by Bob Swerer who’s voice adds a great touch to the whole project….I still continure to think it is Dick Proenoke’s voice….since Bob is reading Dick’s diary of the day to day activities as this film moves along.

Proenoke simply was “blogging” by todays lingo his ideas by writing and recording his experiences on film….he was a man of many talents and ideas.

The only portion of the dvd that sticks out poorly in it’s production are a few stock video moments of the land and its animals. Only a few quick moments that look like they were shot with video just yesterday and may provoke the viewer a short chuckle to the abrubt contrast of the overall style of the film.

Overall I highly recommend everyone from woodworker to nature lover to take 60 minutes and watch this film.
I think it’s great medicine for the soul and also some great lessons to be learned for us all.

Make something with the tools you have…...the best advice I ever got from watching this man. Thank you Dick Proenneke I have been changed for the better by his work. Not long after watching this film a fascination and ability I had never kown that lied within me became real and I found a love of wood work.

I am also happy to have read that a Part 2 has been released! I have yet to see it but from the Amazon reviews it also seems to be very good. There is also a book from the first DVD as well…I have heard that is also very enjoyable.

For more information on all of this please look on:

I hope someone else enjoys this important film.

Be well friends and take a moment to enjoy being.


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3489 days

28 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118143 posts in 4464 days

#1 posted 03-24-2012 10:14 PM

I’ve seen this film many times it’s one of my Favorites .


View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3769 days

#2 posted 03-24-2012 10:58 PM

I’ve read about 50% of the book and seen parts of the movie; it was quite incredible what he did. I love the scenes of him ripping a log from a tree trunk! He appeals to the part in all of us that grew up wanting to live in the forest in a house built by our own hands.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3295 days

#3 posted 03-24-2012 11:36 PM

The film was amazing. I saw it a few years ago. Unreal what the guy could and did do.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View jeepturner's profile


946 posts in 3679 days

#4 posted 03-24-2012 11:46 PM

One of my favorites to watch. I like it small bits rather than the whole thing at once. He was his own man, and lived life on his terms. I am forever grateful for the documentary of his work and later life.

-- Mel,

View John's profile


15 posts in 4030 days

#5 posted 03-25-2012 12:11 AM

My local PBS station aired Alone in the Wilderness II last November and there is supposed to be enough video he shot that they will also produce a third program.

View muleskinner's profile


941 posts in 3323 days

#6 posted 03-25-2012 01:46 AM

What always struck me about the film is how much energy he had to put into making it. Consider that all the scenes of him paddling his canoe, climbing, hiking, etc. he had to do twice – set up the camera, paddle (etc) off, go back and get the camera, continue on his way. If I remember correctly he finally left when he was nearing his 80’s because he was getting tired of the winters. Pretty tough old goat.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4190 days

#7 posted 03-25-2012 01:47 AM

i also have this dvd in my video library, my good friend neil brooks has viewed it also, and i have watched it many many times…i lived in alaska from 1980 – 1996, much of the time that dick was living at twin lakes, i never got to go visit with dick , but i certainly understand many of the things he loved about alaska, and about wood working…its a video that brings me much peace and reminds me of the enchanted life i lived in alaska for 15 years…its very much a part of my wood working life and where i get my vision for what i want to make…thank you for bringing this review to light, for others to enjoy….grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4178 days

#8 posted 03-25-2012 03:38 AM

I’ve got it, too, and it’s, I don’t know, inspiring? I don’t know if I could hack it up there, though. There’s a part where he says something like, “It’s cold out today, but the cabin is a toasty 42 degrees”.

Sadly, it would probably be illegal, or at least “suspicious”, to live like that today.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View rikgn's profile


28 posts in 3817 days

#9 posted 03-25-2012 04:35 AM

For years now I have made sure I watched & donated to my local PBS station when “Alone In The Wilderness” aired. This year it was great to see part II of Dick Proenneke’s real life adventure. RG

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3384 days

#10 posted 03-25-2012 05:12 AM

A dissenting view.
I watched this film a couple of years ago and was rather turned off by the guy. He seemed vain, proud and quite anti-social, which is fine for a select few but not for most of us. Who of us here would give up everyone we love to be a rugged individual with no purpose worth considering? And what of us if we would?
He took the tools and the knowledge from civilization and then retreated to an out post that in reality would be no different from the northern states or most of Canada. What is important to remember in the veneration of him is that he did nothing that was not done by tens of thousands of pioneers and settlers in the 18th and 19th century. But they did it to build something other than a temple to their own ability and distaste for others. And they did it without having 50lb sacks of sugar flown in to them.
I don’t deny his skills or work ethic but I do have trouble with the pipe dreams he seems to inspire in people I’ve talked to.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4060 days

#11 posted 03-25-2012 12:40 PM


One way or the other, your post was exceptionally well written, and your argument very well made.


-- -- Neil

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3690 days

#12 posted 03-25-2012 12:59 PM

life has surely come a long way

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3972 days

#13 posted 03-25-2012 01:35 PM

I have watched both part 1 and part 2 and enjoyed them very much. He had something he wanted to do,
and he did it. To me he was not vain or anti-social, he just wanted to live his own life and did so without
bothering anyone else. What anyone takes away from these films does seem to matter to him, to me
he just wants to express himself and let us know that he enjoyed life and wants to share that enjoyment.
Just my opinion and I have been wrong before.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 3919 days

#14 posted 03-26-2012 06:18 AM

Well said Gus. I agree completely. Some see what they WANT to see. Others see what He did …for Himself.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View John Cleary's profile

John Cleary

74 posts in 3670 days

#15 posted 03-26-2012 10:13 AM

He had such an appreciation for nature. If everyone thought like him, the world would be a much better and friendlier place.
Seriously one of the best documentries ever made.

I play this DVD everytime i enter my attic workshop, it allows me to think of wide open spaces even though i’m in a cramped space.

-- crumbs make bread--

showing 1 through 15 of 28 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics