The first time I heard about someone lobbying to tear down the Elwah Dam, I was skeptical (this was in the early 1980s). I guess that times, AND my perception, have changed over the last few decades.

This informational and entertaining documentary is an encapsulated history of dam building in the United States. It contains the pros and cons, so we see and hear the rationale for them in the first place: a need for hydro power and flood control, plus provide water for agriculture and recreation. On the other hand, we learn all of the devastating statistics about salmon, the in-breeding of hatchery fish, broken Native American treaties and lost habitat.

Of course everyone wants to have his or her say. The politicians are the most boring and the lively woman who explored Glen Canyon (before the dam was built), often in the nude (with spectacular pictures to prove it), is by far the most engaging. The activists are funny, brave, profane and creative. I love the crack the "Earth First" fellow painted on the face of one of the dams, and the scissors (with a dotted line!) on another.

There are amazing statistics, e.g.: There are over 75,000 dams in the U.S., 250,000 gallons of water flow through the Grand Coulee Dam PER SECOND, and Richard Nixon signed The Endangered Species Act (snail darter, anyone?). We see astonishing evidence of the resilience of the salmon and its ability to come back when given half a chance. One fellow says, "We don't have to do a thing; just leave them alone!" Another says, "We ignore the genetic diversity of wild salmon and use hatchery fish. It's like we overlook Bach, Beethoven and Mozart in favor of Yanni, Yanni, Yanni!"

This 2014 Seattle International Film Festival entry from the United States is fun and informative. No preview, sorry...