1491 – Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (2018)

a documentary by Arwen Curry

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a feature documentary exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the late feminist author Ursula K. Le Guin. Best known for groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy works such as A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Dispossessed, Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the margin of “respectable” literature until the sheer excellence of her work, at long last, forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. Her fascinating story has never before been captured on film.

Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a journey through the writer’s career and her worlds, both real and fantastic. Viewers will join the writer on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, opening new doors for the imagination and inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. The film features stunning animation and reflections by literary luminaries including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, and more.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, California Humanities, the Berkeley Film Foundation etc (description taken from the original website of the documentary)

The documentary is truly one of the best I have seen dedicated to an author, the more to such an incredible and inspiring one such as Ursula K LeGuin. Take some time to explore her website https://www.ursulakleguin.com/

One of the best documentaries about Sci-Fi indeed and one to carefully and attentively thread along and listen to one of its most cherished authors. It wanders elegantly from personal life, the landscapes that shaped her novels, the childhood memories, her rise and response in Sci-fi fandom and canon, her relation, acknowledgment and understanding of the first nation people genocide in the Americas and in particular her knowledge of indigenous peoples of California.

It also combines some really great animation work that blends in very well with her world building. There are in fact very few movies based on her actual work.

To her previous mentioned works I would like to add The Lathe of Heaven about dreaming and the universe (also a movie) and the wonderful short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Also mentioned in the documentary is her 1985 experimental work Always Returning Home written and situated in the Napa Valley, a speculative anthropology works and tapes made by a future ethnographer and anthropologist Pandora with the rituals, the musical instruments, chants and language of a post-apocalyptic people named the Kesh, a sort of anarcho-primitivist tribe that combines elements of hunterer-gatherers, agricultural and industrial civilization while rejecting city building.

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