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David Attenborough's First Life [DVD]

David Attenborough    Exempt   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
Price: 6.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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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 (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0042HOQ02
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,904 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

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
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 140 people found the following review helpful
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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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative TV at its very best 24 Nov 2010
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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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as riveting as previous series 2 Jan 2013
By Teemacs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's partially the material. Whereas Sir David's previous efforts showed off many extraordinary features of life as we currently know it (complete with often mind-blowing photography), this is life as has long vanished, and that is in turn limited by the reliance on fossils, which only appear in rocks when their subjects are candidates for fossilisation - and fossilisation itself is a rare occurrence, so in a way it's amazing that we have as much as we have. The animals themselves have been dead for rather a long time, so they are reproduced (very effectively) as CGI, with occasional reference to similar living animals. However, to me, it is more material for a textbook rather than a television series, in that it is simply lacking in the visual impact of the real thing.

In a way this programme is humbling, in that it portrays just how much we don't know. How did the first DNA come together? What were the origins of the "simple cell" (every one an amazing conglomeration of interdependent electrochemical complexity)? These are questions without answers and subject only to speculation. It would be interesting to get to other parts of the solar system and see whether there exists there forms of proto-life.

Having said that, Sir David lays out a fascinating story of the rise of life in the sea and its emergence on land, even though everything that works well in water doesn't on land, and this is where this particular story ends. As I said, very interesting, yet to me somehow not as gripping as previous series.

Another factor in this is another fossil, Sir David himself. While clearly still possessing the boundless enthusiasm for his subject, at 80-something he is clearly starting to creak a bit - he is now rather portly and walks with a pronounced limp.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
DVD itself worked perfectly, no issues there. The content was brilliant, really interesting and we enjoyed watching it. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Emmy H
5.0 out of 5 stars A proper Documentary
In a world of television so much populated by infotainment this is another marvellous documentary by David Attenborough. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Andrew Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars A amazing tour of how it all started
One of Attenborough's finest its a shame they're only an hour long. The feature length documentary on him is well worth a watch too.
Published 1 month ago by Roxanne Slater
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb updating
David Attenborough made "Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives" many years ago and this is a worthy successor with full CGI animation.
Published 2 months ago by J. Gardiner
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Brilliant DVD, very very interesting if you are into fossils and paleontology, fantastic computer graphics really bring the fossils to life
Published 3 months ago by Sarah Freeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and nice to watch
Very nice and interesting DVD, where the latest findings on the beginning of life is included.
David narrates extremely good and the series beautifully concludes his life... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Janja Plazar
5.0 out of 5 stars first life dvd
As always David Attenborough does a brilliant job of explaining 1st life underwater. Enjoyed every minute of it and recomend this as a present for any Attenborough fan.
Published 5 months ago by mudge.mudge
5.0 out of 5 stars first life
very good dvd if you like david Attenborough and I wanted to get the set and I am very happy with it
Published 5 months ago by ian
5.0 out of 5 stars Animal Diversity
Well what can you say David Attenborough at his best. Animated dvd about the first signs of life on earth and how it evolved. Ideal for children, students and adults. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT
This dvd gives a clear and detailed picture of the evolution of life on the earth
a top quality production
Published 6 months ago by Rev. R. Gurling
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