on 7 April 2003
..And he-arr, deep in the bowels of the Amazon DVD forest, comes a remarkable DVD set. Bursting with beautiful photography, good science, the accessible (but not patronising) style of Sir David Attenborough, opens up the world of mammals to the masses. Arriving on four DVDs, which contain all ten episodes plus extras (which are thoughtfully placed at appropriate points through the series rather than on a seperate disc) we learn about the varied and wonderful creatures to which we are related. How they live, how they feed, breed, and die... from the majestic lions on the plains of the Serengeti, to the polar icecaps, and the baboons in the Amazon rainforest, are all presented in exceptional detail & with Attenborough's infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter.
Many mammals are nocturnal by nature, so for the first time many animals are caught on film through the use of infra-red cameras... watching a pride of lionness' hunt by night is a staggering experience and will give your subwoofer a workout, not to mention chill the blood! There are also close encounters with numerous types of dolphins, the rare blue whale, monkeys & bats of all various kinds, and so on. Truly something for everyone here.
Can't recommend this series highly enough. Another great from the undisputed king of nature programmes, you'll want to watch this again and again.
on 2 March 2004
Will there ever be a better presenter of documentaries about the natural world than David Attenborough? For decades now we have been lulled into learning about nature by a man who manages to convey his unique passion for all things alive with a panache that cannot be matched. This is the man who could have been running the BBC, but decided instead to remain an employee and continue producing documentaries. Life of Mammals may well be his best work yet.
The series begins with "A Winning Design", which distinguishes mammals from other living organisms. This episode follows marsupials, and hence spends most of its time in Australia. There is some wonderful footage of the duck-billed platypus, perhaps the most bizzare mammal alive today. From here, the next three episodes deal with small herbivores as David charts the development of mammals by examining animals of greater and greater evolutionary complexity. Spectacular later episodes include "Meat Eaters", in which large cats and dogs are compared, and "Life in the Trees", in which David is hoisted to the top of the rainforest canopy to observe the astounding gibbons, who move from branch to branch with breathtaking speed and agility. There is also the amazing "Return to the Water". David stands inside a life-size computer-generated blue whale, and states that the ancestors of these giants were "deer-like creatures" - a fact that surprised me! The last two episodes then examine man's pre-cursors in social monkeys, baboons and finally man himself.
This series, along with the Blue Planet, must rank alongside David's finest work. Fortunately, he shows no signs of slowing down, although one can only wonder if there is any creature he has not yet filmed, or if he could add to what he has produced here. There is a host of previously unseen behaviour in this series, mainly due to the advantage of cameras that are capable of filming with practically no light. The behaviour of platypus in their nest, as well as lions hunting at night, are particularly memorable. David has produced another masterpiece, and it is hard to see how the BBC will ever replace him.
on 15 June 2005
With three boys ages 3,5 & 7, DVD requests were always Bob the Builder, Thomas, Tweenies, etc. No longer! David Attenborough has the rare talent of capturing the attention of adults and young children alike. This series is excellently presented, beautifully shot and thoroughly enjoyable. If you would rather your children learnt something when watching the box, then this is the DVD for you.
on 13 March 2008
David Attenborough introduces the mammals effortlessly and very well. He seems to be happy in each location and aware that the efforts of the team will result in brilliant television when broadcast. I think the programmes flow from one to the next better than other LIFE series because I didn't feel let down by a weaker episode. I'm not sure whether to thank the BBC or the Class that is the mammals for this. Cats Dogs Rodents Marsupials Anteaters Omnivores Primates Seals&Whales entertain and fascinate, but even so this could have flopped were it not for the world masters at work on sound visuals and editing. Credit to David Attenborough for dividing the mammals by DIET, this allows creative titles such as 'the Chisellers' the 'the Insect hunters', making it easy to empathise with the creatures and understand the trajectory of each programme.
Special features are 3 brief high quality programmes introducing the viewer to BBC crew behind the cameras. Fact files on Disc 3 have more facts than I expected, good detail. The music (mainly orchestral) does not intrude too much and prevent the combination of good dialogue&visuals&sounds which are the trio that make a good documentary. Probably the best television/film I have ever seen including anything from Hollywood and Europe. 5 superbright stars.
on 25 August 2011
All the makings of a classic series - with David Attenborough you can't go far wrong. We don't have TV, and we live in France. My kids are French speaking, so these DVDs allow them to learn about animals and listen to English at the same time.
For me, I have watched nature programmes for years, but with this set of DVDs I am continuing to learn about animal behaviour: Orang-Utans manoeuvring boats for example.
This DVD boxed set is only part of our collection - along with Blue Planet : Complete BBC Series (Special Edition 4 Disc Box Set) [DVD] and Planet Earth : Complete BBC Series (5 Disc Box Set)  [DVD] they give us entertainment and education at the same time.
on 25 March 2006
It's an often overused word, especially in relation to David Attenborough, but this series is truly a demonstration of Genius. Yes, with a capital G.
Since I can remember, David Attenborough has been involved in some truly awe-inspiring projects - The Natural World, Living Planet, Life in the Freezer, etc etc. What unites the various programmes is the obvious dedication and love of the subject matter from all involved.
Beautifully shot, edited and narrated, The Life of Mammals is an epic study of some fascinating wildlife. Starting with the Platypus, surely the oddest of all mammals, and moving gracefully and majestically through countless other species, the series ends with a fascinating treatment on Humans themselves.
Attenborough's chosen subdivisions of the group makes the large volume of material easier to digest - Chisellers, Meat Eaters, Water Dwellers, Opportunists, Tree Dwellers, Insect Hunters - they're all equally interesting, endearing and lovable.
As with any Attenborough project, there's a fair share of groundbreaking technology used to give a new insight into the natural world. Luckily this new technology is used sparingly, and with obvious benefit where it is.
There's rarely a dull moment's viewing in this series, or in any other Attenborough - BBC collaboration. Lovers of nature documentaries will not be disappointed.
on 29 January 2008
Having missed this when it was first on TV I eagerly awaited buying the series on DVD. I was not disappointed. It started out great and just got better and better. By the time I had watched the last episode which showed the remarkable similarities humans share with other mammals as well as the immense differences between us, my mind was blown! If you love natural history you will love 'The Life of Mammals'.
on 27 October 2013
David Attenborough strikes again. What more can I say? This time, he takes on some of our own kind: mammals.
Meet beavers building their huge dams, racoons swarming all over American cities (now I understand why blogger John Michael Greer believes that racoons will eventually evolve into the next intelligent species!), hedgehogs in Attenborough's own backyard, kangaroos, orang-utans trying out saws and hammers (Planet of the Apes, anyone?), chimps on a stampede...you get the picture.
The deepest mystery: why do tree-living sloths insist on defecate on the ground, where they are easy pray? Unintelligent design, anyone? As usual, Attenborough inserts himself into the action, at one point trailing a Siberian tiger. For once, he's cheating - the tiger lives behind a fence, and I don't blame David for not getting inside the fenced area!
I haven't seen this particular DVD, so this is a review of the show itself, which I've seen elsewhere.
on 10 February 2013
This is another of Sir David Attenborough's BBC documentaries and as usual it is excellent. He and his documentary team manage to secure a lot of footage of wildlife that I have never seen before therefore it is highly recommended. Thoroughly enjoyable.
on 1 August 2013
There is only one word to describe these documentaries and that is ' Excellent '. The only very faint criticism that I could possibly have is that there could often be less background music and more of the sounds recorded on location, or, failing that, more of their beautifully faked up ' natural sounds '!
David Attenborough's work is so good that it doesn't need emotional hyping by music in the chases and grisley bits but tighter editing to compensate, and little more music other than at the opening and closing and, possibly, for scene setting.
I prefer to watch these documentaries and imagine that I am ' on location' with them and not sat in a studio with the Musicians Union knocking on the door.
Sound editors can very easily ruin excellent work.