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David Attenborough's First Life [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: David Attenborough
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Nov. 2010
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0042HOQ02
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,102 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


In fifty years of broadcasting, David Attenborough has travelled the globe to document the living world in all its wonder. Now, in this landmark series, he completes his journey by going back in time to the very roots of the tree of life, in search of the very first animals.
From the fog bound coastline of Newfoundland to the deserts of North Africa and the rainforests of Queensland, Attenborough finds evidence in fossils and living animals of an extraordinary period in Earth’s history, half a billion years ago, when animals first appeared in the oceans. From the first eyes that saw, to the first predators that killed and the first legs that walked on land, these were creatures that evolved the traits and tools that allow all animals, including us, to survive to this day.

Stunning photography and state of the art visual effects combine with the captivating charm of the world’s favourite naturalist. Bringing together fossil finds from the last few years that have transformed our understanding of early life forms with photorealistic CGI technology, First Life brings these animals and their environments back to life in brilliant detail.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 6 Nov. 2010
Format: DVD
You might think that there's nothing new to say in natural history; that the origin of life has been examined already in such intricate details that another two-hour investigation would be pointless. That's pretty much what I thought - before watching First Life.
In fact it turns out that new scientific methods and study have evolved themselves, bringing new information and understandings to light. The programme also uses new tech to illustrate its themes - when most of your subjects are fossils, it certainly does help to animate with some snappy visual effects. A sizeable chunk of First Life depends upon using animation to show weird early life forms as they may have appeared, half a billion or so years ago. This helps to make the subject far more lively than if it depended on fossilised rocks and old skeletons (even if the visual effects aren't anything like as `photorealistic' as the makers claim). They don't quite bring fossils to life, but we can see what extinct species may have looked like with their skins on, and how they may have lived, moved, fed and bred.
This programme also benefits from being presented by the world's most accomplished natural historian and, even at 83 years old, Sir David Attenborough does a wonderful job of bringing the past and its quirky, almost alien inhabitants to life. Attenborough never talks down to the viewer, and he's always enthusiastic and engaged with the subject matter. In First Life he also depends very heavily upon the expertise of various palaeontologists and other scientists, and these experts get plenty of air-time to explain their specialist discoveries and themes. Attenborough is the presenter but he does not hog the limelight; the animals of the long distant past are always the core focus of the film.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Sarcosuchus on 24 Nov. 2010
Format: DVD
Whilst woolly mammoth, giant birds, and, most especially, dinosaurs, take centre stage in the TV version of prehistory, our smaller and more vital antecedents on the tree of life are often ignored. This is a huge shame, as the earliest periods of life on our planet contain some of the most fascinating and bizarre creatures ever to have lived. And so the mighty David Attenborough (who else?!) takes us on a journey round the world, from the coast of England to the Burgess shale, to meet our earliest ancestors.

The extraordinary first phase of terrestrial life is described with love and affection, (as you might expect of Attenborough, whose entire career has been a selfless love-letter to the creatures of our world, living and dead), and we meet these creatures face-to-face, as if in a personal encounter. We meet the first fractal organisms, neither plant nor animal. We meet the incredible trilobites, with their solid crystal eyes. And we meet creatures so bizarre they look like nothing alive today, giving us a tantalising glimpse into the directions evolution might have taken.

The CGI is well-done, and (crucially) not intrusive. The fossils - particularly the splendid Trilobites - are hauntingly beautiful and strange. Give this to a child at just the right age, and you'll create a life-long interest in nature and the history of life. My only complaint about this is there are only two episodes.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By DF McCleland VINE VOICE on 27 Dec. 2010
Format: DVD
This is David Attenborough at his best. For all avid followers of his work, of which I am one, he will be sorely missed as the BBC will no longer have use of his services.

By dealing with organisms that no longer exist, the approach is slightly different from the previous programs where David would stand near to an animal whilst providing an explanation of its habits.

To bring the various creatures/organisms to life, extensive use is made of CGI without any the usual flashing visuals & dramatic music that accompanies CGI with American presentations of this nature. Instead it is the usual calm, engaging, evocative voice of David making his point in clear, lucid English.

The other difference is the extensive use of experts to explain various aspects such as the one explaining what she believes is indicative of when sexual reproduction commenced.

David as usual does a Cook's Tour visiting those places where significant fossil finds have been made such as the Burgess Shales in the Rockies Mountains, Mistaken Point in Newfoundland as well as Scotland & Morocco. He then attempts to find show one a living ancestor of that creature.

Commencing with the uni-cellular creatures of which there are no fossil records, he moves to the fractal animals which were part plant, part animal & an evolutionary dead-end, he then proceeds up the chain to the anthropods of which the trilobites are the best known examples.

Finally he arrives at the animals which made the transition from water to land.

All of this is accompanied by excellent non gratuitous CGI, lucid commentary & stunning photography. Just what would expect from a David Attenborough production.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darth Maciek TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 April 2012
Format: DVD
"First life" is a very succesful and extremely interesting document about the recent discoveries of oldest forms of complexe life on our planet, giving a lot of new information and allowing us to see older knowledge in a completely new light.

David Attenborough takes us first to the primal darkness of oceans in Ediacaran, the last geological period of the Precambrian era. Ediacaran lasted from 630 to 542 million years ago - it began when ended the last global glaciation ("Snowball Earth") and it ended with the so-called "Cambrian explosion" (542-540 million years ago), when a very great number of forms of complex life appeared simultaneously in all oceans of the planet.

For a very long time the whole Precambrian era was considered as devoided of complex (multicellular) life, with only microrganisms being present in waters of the planet. It all changed however in 1957, with the discovery of "Charnia" - a complex life form of respectable size (the biggest specimens reaching almost 7 feet!), which without a shadow of doubt lived LONG BEFORE the Cambrian explosion. Once this ground breaking discovery was made, scientists started hunting for other Precambrian fossils and it is now certain, that already 585 million years ago there were many complex life forms living in the primordial ocean - although they were certainly less numerous than life forms appeared during Cambrian explosion.

Although in his programs David Attenborough sticks very close to the hard science, this discovery of incredibly ancient organisms living in extremely distant times seems almost coming from science fiction or fantastic literature.
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