Film Preview: THE DARK DIVIDE (directed by Tom Putnam)

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by Tony Frankel on September 13, 2020

in Film


The new film The Dark Divide tells the true story of renowned lepidopterist and nature writer Dr. Robert Pyle’s perilous 1995 journey across one of America’s largest undeveloped wildlands. Based on Pyle’s terrific book Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide, the picture opens with a virtual theatrical release beginning September 18, 2020.

Helmed by Tom Putnam, the cast includes David Cross (Arrested Development), Debra Messing (Will & Grace), David Koechner (SNL alum of the Anchorman films), Cameron Esposito (Mother’s Day), and Gary Farmer (First Cow). Shot in many of the locations where Pyle’s story took place, the film transports viewers to an incredible landscape few have seen, and no one has filmed before.

Dr. Robert Pyle (Cross) doesn’t like surprises. He’s a professor who writes books about butterflies and moths from the safety of his front porch, content to daydream about mounting an expedition despite gentle prodding from his outgoing but sickly wife Thea (Messing). After Pyle’s world turns upside-down, leaving him adrift and alone, the Guggenheim Foundation approves a grant for Pyle to search for new species of butterflies on a month-long expedition from Washington’s Mt. Rainier all the way to the Columbia Gorge through 150 miles of rugged wilderness.

This quiet, grief-stricken man, who has no business camping in his own backyard, embarks on a daunting adventure, despite warnings from seasoned hikers, the locals, and his own judgment. Along the way, Pyle discovers much more than butterflies. The trail takes him through ground zero for one of history’s most heated battles between environmentalists and big business. He encounters proponents from both sides, as well as the Forest Service workers and Native Americans who find themselves stuck in-between.

And just when he thinks he’s mastering himself and mother nature, Pyle discovers the biggest surprise of all waiting for him deep in the ancient woods. Charming, heartfelt, and surprising, The Dark Divide is equal parts Jack London, Heart of Darkness, and science fiction.  Pyle’s true-life journey leads him to not only discover his own true nature, but the very human need for wilderness in our lives.

Now is the perfect time for this film, whose core themes of recovery, personal growth, and understanding other cultures create an opportunity to explore solutions between nature and civilization, ultimately reminding us that growth is hard, but the work is worth it — leaving us with hope that something better is waiting on the other side.

stills © Dark Divide LLC

The Dark Divide
Public House Films
Strike Back Studios
REI Co-op Studios and the National Wildlife Federation
opens virtually and at select drive-ins on September 18, 2020
global VOD/Digital & Blu-Ray/DVD platform release on November 10, 2020
for tickets and more info, visit The Dark Divide

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