Friday, September 25, 2009

A guy who actually knew what he was doing

This is Richard Proenneke. He thought it would be cool to build a cabin in Alaska and live there for a year in 1961. And stayed until 1998. He was insanely resourceful and built his cabin using almost only stuff he found on the site. That dutch door he's leaning through, those hinges: All's made from local wood using nothing but hand tools. He even made a hinge and a lock out of wood, too.
All this is documented in a film called "Alone in the Wilderness". Proenneke shot a lot of 16 mm film about his life, which has since been edited together. He's almost blogger-like, when a bush pilot friend arrives with two pairs of socks, Proenneke drags out his 16mm Bolex and films them, so he can show them sometime, somewhere, to someone. My friend, mushing comrade and, alas, ex-neighbor Jaass gave the film to me but I only managed to get around seeing it yesterday. It is mind-bending. The stuff this guy could build with hand tools.
He seems to have been a short man with a funny gait. If you get to see the film, look at his enormous biceps as he saws!
Somehow he manages to build, fish and hunt without any kind of macho swagger. Just a careful guy minding his own business, with a bent towards perfectionism. Me, I'm a tall, confused guy with no discipline. But I can still be inspired.

Excerpt of the film below:


Jaysen said...

My favorite part of the excerpt

"… would I still enjoy the isolation in the winter?"

It takes a bigger man than me to even find out the answer to that question.

Oldfool said...

Oh man I love it. Now I've got to figure out why it made me feel so good.

Diane said...

I saw this and loved every minute of it. It truly inspired me and I was at awe with his capabilities.
Thank you for posting this and reminding me that anything is possible.

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

What a fantastic man! The only trouble with this film is that it was to short!
I myself looks mostly confused if I try to make anything, even if it´s a tiny shelf :-)
Have a great day now!


part 2 aired 15.12.2011 on PBS: