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DamNation (2014)

HD   NR Closed Captioning

Ben Knight & Travis Rummel

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About the Movie

This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades with-out access. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a meta-morphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 6
  • Fresh: 3
  • Rotten: 3
  • Average Rating: 7.0/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: Lumps together its grievances and interviews in a way that feels scattered and geared toward those inclined to agree. – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times, May 8, 2014

Rotten: "DamNation" does little in the way of presenting the pros alongside the cons of dams, resulting in cheerful feature-length propaganda that seems to be disagreeing with no one in particular. – Geoff Berkshire, Variety, May 18, 2014

Fresh: Directors Ben Knight and Travis Rummel have made a fleet movie with a convincing argument for systemic dam removal (some of which is caught thrillingly on film) and arresting nature-drenched cinematography. – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2014

Fresh: A quick, smart documentary about the havoc one country can create in its native fish populations by building 75,000 dams over an 80- or 90-year span. – Chris Packham, Village Voice, May 6, 2014

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews


Beautifully shot film- interesting subject of American dams, which are often overlooked, yet are integral to the story of fresh water in America.

Beautifully Shot

The film is gorgeous, the shots from the lower Elwha are amazing. As a documentary it tells a story few people even consider and shows the true cost of the “progress” brought by development.

Muh It was alright

This documentary brings light to a major environmental and economic issue, using some of Patagonia's cred to help broadcast the message. The cinematography is mind blowing at points and really conveys the size of these dams, and in turn the size of the problem. I went into this film in agreement with the premise, however had I not, I would have immediately assumed there was another side to the issue that could hold water. It's not that convincing of a documentary. The argument for salmon spawning is strong but little attention was paid to the hard numbers regarding the things directly involved with ripping out dams: the effect on the power grid, raising or lowering the likelihood of natural disasters, local economic impacts, how other nations in the world are constructing/removing dams, etc. I am confident all of these numbers are on the side of removing unnecessary dams and while they hinted at these points the filmmakers really pushed the idealistic, Edward Abbey romantic side of things, an undertone that is agreeable but is unlikely to win over folks from the pro-dam side. I certainly enjoyed this film and I'd recommend it to anyone, I just think that if more concrete points were included the effects of this documentary would reach much farther.

DamNation (2014)
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Customer Ratings

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