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Stewart Lee Udall was the most prominent and effective Secretary of the Interior in American history. STEWART UDALL: The Politics of Beauty is a feature documentary that examines the trajectory of Udall's life from his childhood through his Mormon mission, his World War II service, his student years at the University of Arizona, his time in Congress, and then, most significantly, his years as Secretary of the Interior and beyond.


The film introduces us to the birth pangs of modern environmental politics, to figures like Leopold, Rachel Carson, David Brower, and John Saylor. We see how Udall's ideas evolved, best illustrated in his conversion from a pro-power dam Arizona representative to the Interior Secretary who dealt the death blow to proposed Grand Canyon dams. We examine his long fight to win compensation for Navajo Indians and "downwinders" who got cancer from their exposure to radiation during the Cold War without being warned of the dangers. And we see the relevance of his concerns—he was the first public official to speak out about global warming, for example—to our current day crises.

78 minutes
SDH Captioned

Directed by John De Graaf
Produced by Zelie Pollon, John de Graaf
Photographer/Editor: Greg Davis
Executive Producers: Kevin White, Vada O. Manager
Narrator: Kate Udall
Music: Michael Bade

We offer two basic screening options: in-person or virtual. Book an in-person screening using the button below. For an online screening, fill out the virtual screening request form.

For more information on virtual screening options, visit our Learn About Screenings page.



Screening options:
$29.95 Home Use DVD purchase (private use only)

COMMUNITY SCREENINGS (single events with license to charge admission)
$100 Small Community Screening (1-50 people)
$200 Medium Community Screening (51-100 people)
$350 Large Community Screening (100+ people)

"STEWART UDALL: The Politics of Beauty was a perfect choice for a Climate Justice Film Series. Important, timely, as well as visually stunning, the documentary masterfully weaves together archival footage, insightful interviews and Udall's own words to explore his tireless efforts to protect and preserve our natural world, along with his unwavering commitment to social justice. A beautiful, thought-provoking tribute to Udall's profound and enduring legacy on environmental policy and climate justice. A truly inspirational film.”
Lorraine Spenser, Social Action Group/Temple Beth Shalom, NY
"It beckons us all to public service, informs us on how we came to benefit from the conservation we so enjoy, and, perhaps above all, teaches us the power of persistence and a smile. Don't miss this masterpiece."
Gus Speth, Director, United Nations Development Program, Former Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environment

"STEWART UDALL is a visually stunning journey through US environmental history. The film is a captivating story that intertwines US history, politics, tribal policy, and environmental justice and activism."
Yolanda Cieters, Sustainability Manager, Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Seattle University

"This film is long overdue, and much needed. It documents the remarkable breadth and depth of Udall's achievements. But the film does more than that. It helps us to appreciate Udall as an essential link between the conservation and environmental movements of the 20th century and the challenges, needs, and opportunities of the 21st."
Curt Meine, Senior Fellow, Aldo Leopold Foundation and Center for Humans and Nature, Author, Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work

"Absolutely fantastic! An amazing and insightful offering."
Dr. Michael Dorsey, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College

"Stewart Udall was a true Renaissance man, an environmentalist in heart and mind, but so much more: outdoorsman, athlete, family man, politician, author, war hero, civil rights activist. A pillar of the Environmental Movement, his legacy includes the Wilderness Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, National Trails System Act, and crown jewel national parks such as Redwood and North Cascades. This is brilliant film in both substance and form, ideal for the classroom."
Bob Manning, Professor Emeritus of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Co-author, Walks of a Lifetime in America's National Parks

"STEWART UDALL and the Politics of Beauty is a timely contribution to the history of politics in the US. The complexity of conservation in politics was presented in a most enjoyable way. The value of this for humanities discussion is immeasurable."
Heather Steinmann, Associate Professor of English, Western New Mexico University

"This film is important, timely, and absolutely stunning. I sincerely hope that the film is viewed by many for a long time to come. I know it will have a very positive impact."
Phil Schoenberg, Associate Professor of Philosophy and English, Western New Mexico University

"Magnificent. Very well done, many tears."
F. Ross Peterson, Professor Emeritus of History, Utah State University

"The film would be a useful addition to most any park, recreation, or tourism course. It does a wonderful job of weaving together a variety of justice-related themes that are more relevant than ever. The film moves quickly and is beautifully crafted."
Dan Dustin, Professor Emeritus of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, University of Utah

"The film, and more importantly, Udall, provide inspiration to anyone that everyone can make a difference, and we all are rewarded when we care for our environment."
Justin Harmon, Associate Professor of Community and Therapeutic Recreation, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

"This is a political thriller and a biography about common sense and respect for others, humility, honesty, courage and compromise. It's very compelling, and it tells the remarkable story of someone actually leaving this world better than how they found it. Stewart Udall is a name a lot of people recognize, but not many know - and that's a shame, because Udall probably did more to improve the average American's quality of life than any politician in the history of this country. A lot of people in the USA will enjoy this well-told story about a non-divisive man who always sought effective compromise for the greater good. I also think it's one of those very rare movies that can actually help America heal."
Charles Dye, Associate Professor of Cinema, Virginia Technical University

"The writing, visuals, music, and pace all were masterfully done. This film does a magnificent job of capturing Udall and the causes to which he devoted his life."
Thomas G. Smith, Professor Emeritus of History, Nichols College, Author, Stewart L. Udall: Steward of the Land

"Students loved the 'independent spirit' of the documentary production and were inspired by the film...It was not only very informative, but it had an emotional depth that touched us all, and gave us a lot to think about. On top of that, the visuals were absolutely stunning.  This is a beautiful documentary and I highly recommend it."
Helen Haxton-Stephenson, Director, Film Media Arts Program, Yavapai College

"STEWART UDALL: The Politics of Beauty is beautiful, sad, joyous, contemplative, radical, thoughtful, challenging, and full of hope! One person can make a difference and Stewart Udall made a difference in so many ways!"
Shelton Johnson, Ranger, Yosemite National Park

"This film is beautifully done and parts of it brought tears to my eyes. The piece is filmed so artfully. I hope it gets the wide recognition and high praise that it deserves."
Jeff Jones, former Ranger, Lassen National Park

"It's a beautiful and accurate tribute. Bravo! So very well done."
Gordon Smith, former US Senator, Oregon

"A remarkable tribute...Udall was an advocate not only for the environment but for social justice and equality. This film illustrates all these points and more. It is a touching and eye-opening chronology of a true American hero, an inspirational, thought-provoking experience."
Bob Sampayan, former Mayor of Vallejo, California

"I'm absolutely blown away by this film. Sitting here nearly teary eyed just at the power and beauty of it."
Tim Palmer, Author, America's Great Mountain Trails and America's Great River Journeys

"I truly believe that Stewart Udall is an unrecognized American Hero. His example is certainly a lesson for a modern world steeped in division and partisan politics. I was deeply touched by the film and thought it was one of the most beautiful documentaries I have ever seen."
Tina Cordova, Co-founder, Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium

"The film is so exciting and truly a remarkable history of Mr. Udall. I knew him as an attorney for Navajo uranium workers. I am fortunate to have worked with him. The film must be presented soon to former Navajo uranium miners and their families."
Phil Harrison, Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee

"A gorgeously shot and highly informative movie, a wonderful introduction to a fairly unique and entirely admirable figure from 20th-century American history whose passion for the natural world literally changed the landscape of this country."
Russell Arben Fox, Front Porch Republic

"A pragmatic politician with the soul of a poet, Stewart Udall used his years a Secretary of the Interior under presidents Kennedy and Johnson to do more than any previous Interior secretary to promote legislation and policy vital to the protection of America's natural environment. John de Graaf's moving film also reminds Americans in a time of climate change and racial turmoil what Udall understood more than half a century ago: Conservation and civil rights are joined, and the fight for one must be a fight for the other if either is to succeed."
Christopher Morris, Professor of History, University of Texas at Arlington, Author, The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its Peoples from Hernando de Soto to Hurricane Katrina
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