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4.8 out of 5 stars87
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 30 October 2006
The quality of this series is truly remarkable and its title is not misleading: It reveals the private life of plants in a breathtakingly new way. It shows how varied the strategies of plants are in the struggle for survival and it sheds light on the intricate ways in which plants and animals have adapted to each other. The quality of the time-lapse photography in this six-part series is truly amazing. Camera movements, focus shifts and perfect lighting create dramatic time-lapse sequences with a quality unmatched by anything else that has been shown on TV. It's simply a class of its own. See how plants crawl, fight, and devour other plants and animals. The series also demonstrates how plants and animals live together, a relationship forged by half a billion years of co-evolution, and how plants often exploit animals - not the other way around. You'll never see plants in the same way as before.
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on 15 February 2006
When plants and fungi get the Attenborough treatment, we know we'll see them as we've never seen them before. He explains that some plants are as fierce, active and territorial as animals. Some are adventurous travellers, hunters, lurking predators and kidnappers. Others form close relationships with animals, fungi and different plant species. Only we never see any of this because plants live at a different speed to us. Even the fastest growing plants move too slowly for us to detect without the help of clever modern technology: time-lapse photography. And here's the amazing film evidence that plants are busy, bustling and fighting for survival - just like us. There are 6 episodes of about 50 minutes each. They are:
1) "Travelling" which looks at plants that have some remarkable ways of getting their seeds and even themselves dispersed over great distances, in time as well as space. We see plants that quest forward, searching for things to grip or invade, plants that pull up their roots and tumble, plants that explode in order to spray their seeds as far as possible and plants that float or fly their seeds away. The plant that most impressed me was the magnolia seed discovered in a 2,000 year old burial, that germinated into a tree that produced flowers different to all magnolia flowers in existence today.
2) "Growing" shows how plants use the materials around them, such as water, air, sunlight and minerals and change them into plant material. They are very efficient at building themselves out of these simple ingredients. Even in places where there are hardly any resources they often manage to cling to life and grab what little rain and nourishment becomes available from time to time. David shows us a fascinating range of plant life, from the smallest algae living inside rocks in dry and freezing conditions to giant redwood trees, the biggest living things on earth.
3) "Flowering" is about how plants get themselves pollinated. There are many ways, both simple and devious. The simplest is to produce a great cloud of tiny pollen particles that can blow about in the wind and a small but adequate proportion will chance to fall on a suitable recipient. A lot of plants work harder to make sure they get a good postal service. Flowers have evolved to be irresistible to the plants' chosen animal partners. They tempt birds, bats, insects, etc by giving off visual and scent signals and offering nectar, spare pollen (which bees are fond of) and even sex. Some flowers open and close in such a way that they can trap their pollinators for a few hours then ensure that they avoid being pollinated with their own pollen by losing their attractive look and smell.
4) "The Social Struggle" shows the life and death struggle as plants compete for space and resources. There are plants that are able to grow slowly, biding their time while they wait for a stoke of bad luck to eliminate their rivals and there are others that aggressively take the fight to the enemy by starving or strangling them. There's no blood but it's still a grim battle where only the fittest can survive.
5) "Living Together" focuses on the relationships that form between plants and other organisms. There are symbiotic relationships and parasitic relationships. There are trees that have formed close alliances with ants. They provide the ants with a home - special chambers that exactly suit the ants' needs - and special foods for both the adults and the ant larvae, and in return the ants protect the trees from browsers, insect pests and even keep the ground clear of any potential competitors for yards around. There's a great variety of lichens and every one is a fungus (different types) that grow in a symbiotic association with an alga or cyanobacteria - the mycobiont and the photobiont. Then there are the parasites like mistletoe, fig vines and so on. There's a very extravagant and horrible smelling flower that grows out of its poor host tree and the flower itself is the only visible sign of the parasite. Flies are attracted to it and it takes them prisoner. It's an absolute bounder!
6) "Surviving" examines some of the plants that live in extremely harsh conditions, where it can be very hot or cold or conditions change between those extremes during the course of a day. Also there are areas of very high rain fall where nutrients are being constantly washed out of the sparse soil. Plants have adapted to all these conditions with some extraordinary strategies. Some can soak up vast stores of water when it rains, to take them through months or years of drought. Others hide below the surface of the soil or sand. There are algae that live in the microscopically tiny gaps in the structure of rocks.
This is one of my favourite Attenborough series. The picture quality is better than earlier work and the methods of photography are more sophisticated. Filming plants in this way really had to wait for this technology and it's fortunate for us that it was David Attenborough who took on the task. The special features are a couple of brief snatches of interview: one with David and one with a time-lapse photographer - both short but interesting.
Wonderful series. Highly recommended.
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on 3 October 2003
This is maybe the best documentary ever filmed about plants. It is very didactical and amusing, like most of David A. ones. It is a pity it has the old 4:3 TV format because it would have been great to see it in the already usual 16:9 one. Yet, the quality of the image is really good. I recommend it to all the plants (and nature) lovers out there.
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on 13 February 2006
Having stunned us all with his original Life triology which did concentrate on the wonders of the animal kingdom (although the first did mention the origin of life: bacteria, algae, protozoa and plants), this makes a logical successor by concentrating on the huge variety of the plant kingdom, which make all animal life on this planet possible. Attenborough's style is surely know to all: travelling the world to bring to our living rooms the most amazing sights and combining education with entertainment seamlessly. If all scince lessons were like this then biology would be the most popular subject at school!
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on 6 July 2004
As you would expect from David - another great educational, informative series.
A lot more calming than other 'The Life of...' series, but just as fascinating!
If you enjoyed any of the other series you will definitely enjoy this one as well.
Great for children if you want to introduce them to the world of plants as well - without the gore associated with the other series of 'Life' docs.
Strongly recommended, especially if you are a fan of Attenborough wildlife docs and must for any DVD collection.
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on 17 February 2014
“The Private Life of Plants” isn't as spectacular as David Attenborough's later foray into the kingdom of Plantae and Fungi, “Kingdom of Plants 3D”, but that's mostly a function of the camera technology. Otherwise, all the bizarre stuff is here: 500 year old strangler figs, the Venus fly trap, the pitcher plant, the giant water lily, or the perfectly ordinary bramble – ordinary, that is, until you film it with time-lapse photography, revealing that the bramble bush is about as aggressive as an expansive human empire…

Somehow, I got even more paranoid about the houseplants surrounding me as we speak, after watching clips from this six-part series! As a kid, I assumed that plants were boring and somehow “girlie”, but it seems they are just as cool as sharks or mountain lions, ha ha.
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on 2 December 2012
'The Life of Plants' is a stunning series, and these films are absolute masterpieces, they are a 'must have' for anyone who loves plants or is curious about our, almost silent, co-inhabitors of this planet. These superbly shot studies of plant life are packed full of information and raise a number of very serious questions, none of which, I suspect, will be answered ( or even asked,) in my life time.
About David Attenborough nothing more can be said. He is, to my mind, the very greatest presenter of natural history films, his friendly approach, easy manner and sheer knowledge of his subjects, endear him to all.
The technical quality of the filming is unbelievable wonderful and very frequently merits the word 'astounding', the editing is superb and the soundtrack beautifully itergrated.
In the face of what is in these films language runs out of words. Buy it and see what I mean.
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on 20 November 2011
Private life of plants is a must for all garden enthusiasts.
There is no better way to understanding the world around you.
David Attenborough is enthusiastic as always.Brilliant work.
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on 4 February 2012
If you are looking for detail then that is what you get. I know it's on tv but every home should have one of these in their collection - the kids love 'em
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on 23 December 2011
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