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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

At the WTTC Summit in 2012
At the WTTC Summit in 2012

Alan Root (12 May 1937, London – 26 August 2017) was a British-born filmmaker who worked on nature documentary series such as Survival.[1]

Until 1990 he was married to Joan Root, who was a Kenyan-born conservationist, murdered at Lake Naivasha in 2006. Before that tragedy, the couple did National Geographic articles together from 1963-71 on animals, Galapagos Islands, and mainly African wildlife. Notable films include: The Year of the Wildebeest (1974), Safari by Balloon (1975), Mysterious Castles of Clay (1978), Two in the Bush (1980) and A Season in the Sun (1983).[citation needed]

Alan Root's strong narrative style characterised much of Survival’s output and helped shape a sophisticated genre known as Blue Chip films. The Year of the Wildebeest was the epic story of the thundering migration of wildebeest herds across the plains of the Serengeti. Mysterious Castles of Clay, by contrast, showed wildlife in intricate detail in and around termite mounds, revealing the insects' highly organised society and skills of construction. It received a nomination for an Academy Award.[2]

The Roots used a hot-air balloon to film sequences for the wildebeest film, and in Safari by Balloon made the first hot-air balloon flight over Mount Kilimanjaro. Two in the Bush (re-titled Lights, Action, Africa! in the USA) included "Mysterious Castles Clay" footage of a spitting cobra directing its venom at Joan's face positioned just a few feet from the snake while Alan filmed. A Season in the Sun, an account of wildlife's struggle to survive the heat and drought of the dry season, won an Emmy and a Peabody Award after it was aired by PBS in 1987.[3]

Alan and Joan Root were responsible for many of Survival's most successful films for almost 20 years from the mid-1960s. After their partnership ended, Alan Root continued his association with Survival as a cinematographer, producing his own films and guiding the early African work of camera team Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone, while latterly also acting as adviser to the series.

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In March 2017, Root was diagnosed with glioblastoma. He died on 26 August 2017, aged 80, in Nanyuki, Kenya, following a vacation with his wife, Fran Michelmore, and two sons to Alaska.[4]


  1. ^ "Alan Root". IMDb. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 September 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Nature". Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  4. ^ "[TRIBUTE] Renown wildlife filmmaker Alan Root dies aged 80". Retrieved 27 August 2017.

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This page was last edited on 13 September 2019, at 17:34
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