Review

Planet Earth: Part 1

Written and narrated by Sir David Attenborough

Planet Earth DVD

Product details

Product name: Planet Earth: part 1

Reviewer: Bob Guntrip

Author: Sir David Attenborough

Publisher: BBC

Price: $40.95

Size: Episodes 1 - 5

G Rating:

5

Here is nature writ large - very large. In scale and content Planet Earth is in sharp contrast to David Attenborough's last TV series, Life in the Undergrowth.

From the opening titles of each episode, the camera soars across deserts and mountains, plunges into waterfalls and through deep cavern systems, its footage culled from 200 locations during five years in the field; all of it accompanied by Attenborough's gentle but impassioned narrative.

As the title suggests, this series looks not only at the life to be found on the blue planet, but at the planet itself, and particularly at its meteorology and geology.

This disc contains the first five episodes, entitled ‘From Pole to Pole', ‘Mountains', ‘Fresh water', ‘Caves' and ‘Deserts'.

The episode devoted to deserts, for example, begins in the chill wastes of the Gobi Desert and the climate that sees the snows of winter evaporate rather than melt. Cue the Bactrian camel, now not far from extinction and the pursuit of many days necessary to film their courtship rituals.

The delicate interdependence of the planet's structures and species is a theme of the series, and extends far beyond the mammalian. In a cave system beneath the heat of Mexico, mineral salts have created an intricate and extensive pattern of the purest crystals, layer upon layer, named the cave of chandeliers by the few explorers to have witnessed them. The caves are now closed to casual visitors.

Almost as astounding is the ingenuity of the production crew in communicating some of the world's more inaccessible wonders. Elsewhere in central America is a cave occupied by millions of bats. On the cave floor, the bats' droppings have formed a mound 100m high. Its surface is a moving mass of cockroaches.

The BBC crew spent three days here, rigging up a camera mechanism to show the extent of the bats' toilet. The breathtaking camerawork is acknowledged in this twin-DVD set with a 10-minute making-of feature at the end of each episode.

Not for the first time, and let's hope not for the last, David Attenborough shows us the manifold beauties of our home world from a new angle. See it while you can.


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