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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Living Planet (Repackaged) [DVD]
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87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2006
In almost every type of environment on this planet, no matter how seemingly hostile to life, some sort of life can be found. David Attenborough visits some of the coldest, hottest and roughest parts of The Earth - areas that have the appearance of paradise and others that are more like our idea of hell. In this series of 12 programmes (55 minutes each) he shows us the astounding variety of plants and animals that have adapted perfectly to all kinds of conditions. The final programme of the series is followed by an excellent "Making of The Living Planet" 40 minute documentary. The 12 programmes are:
1) "The Furnaces of the Earth" takes us on a tour of the hot-spots where you wouldn't think life would dare to venture: deep in the oceans where hot gases and minerals gush through cracks in the sea floor; on land where hot, toxic springs bubble up; volcanoes that kill everything in their path when they erupt.
2) "The Frozen World" looks at life in the polar regions and high up on mountains. A surprising number of animals have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions and thrive in the freezer. They use a variety of strategies, such as thick fur, feathers, blubber, antifreeze in the blood and hibernation.
3) "The Northern Forests" that used to cover vast areas of land in the Northern Hemisphere, now somewhat reduced, support some hardy populations. There are hordes of busy, breeding and feeding animals in the summer months. When winter comes some migrate to areas of gentler climate, some hibernate and others continue to scratch a living as best they can.
4) "Jungle" - girdling the planet is an area of steaming jungle, fabulously diverse, teaming with life from the floor to the canopy. David takes his life in his hands to film from the top of the canopy (dangling from ropes!) right down to the forest floor.
5) "The Seas of Grass" where rainfall isn't sufficient to sustain forests of trees but there's enough to water vast plains of grass. Great herds of herbivores are pursued relentlessly for miles by packs of dogs (hyenas, wolves, etc) or crept upto and pounced upon by cats (lions, cheetahs, etc). Smaller animals burrow.
6) "Baking Deserts" call for some extreme adaptations. Some plants and animals can store huge amounts of water when it's available, in preparation of long, dry periods. Under the cracked mud of dry lake beds, dormant fish and toads wait to be brought back to life by the next rain, to breed and feed and then to sleep again. Just amazing.
7) "The Sky Above" provides David with the excuse for some 'fairground' fun discovering how some animals defy gravity? In a special plane he experiences the zero gravity sensation of weightlessness. Then he rises to the edge of the biosphere in a balloon to see what life is up there.
8) "Sweet Fresh Water" makes up only about 3% of the world's water - the rest is salty. Even so, an enormous variety of life is concentrated in our rivers, lakes and ponds. Small, isolated bodies of water harbour small, isolated, unique species of plants and animals. Rivers teem with life.
9) "The Margins of the Land" are constantly shifting as the sea erodes cliffs, sweeps away sand and shingle and deposit the dislodged material further up the coast. Mangroves hold onto their soil and help the land to advance. The margins can be hard areas to make a living but many try and succeed.
10) "Worlds Apart" is about island life. Diversity goes extreme as animals adapt to island conditions in isolation. And it's not just that the rate of speciation is high - species tend to get large on islands, like the giant tortoises, Komodo dragons and large flightless birds (remember that unfortunate relative of the pigeon, the dodo).
11) "The Open Ocean" Most of the surface of the planet is covered by ocean yet it's our least explored environment. It harbours an incredible amount of life, swarming in the sun-lit upper regions but sparse, mysterious and strange in the depths.
12) "New Worlds" brings us up to date with human environments. Even though city scapes look unpromising places for animals to live, many have managed it. Rats and cockroaches have done very well of course, but also pigeons, some hawks, foxes, racoons and so on. Other species have not adapted to or benefited in any way from human alterations to the environment. David suggest that we should be more conscious and careful in the future about how we use and abuse our environment so that we hang on to the biodiversity and beauty that still remains.
Fascinating as usual. David Attenborough and his team never put a foot wrong. Anyone who's interested in our planet will enjoy this.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I'll try and keep this relatively brief, as there are plenty of other reviews here already, some, like Sally Anne's, being very detailed. I'd just like to add my own little tribute to this truly great series. One of Attenborough's 'sledgehammer' documentaries, this is factual television at it's very best.

The range and scope of the series is astonishing. The first 10-15 minutes of the first episode alone justify the price of purchase: travelling up through the strata of the Himalayas, Attenborough gives a wonderfully subtle, understated, and yet awe-inspiringly powerful illustration of what Darwin, Wallace and others, had observed, regarding animal and vegetable adaptations to changing habitats, covering tropical lushness to quasi-polar conditions in a rich ascent. What a way to start the series!

It was of course such observations that lead to the formulation of evolutionary theory, the evidence for which continues to mount up, more prodigiously than even the 'eternal hills' of the Himalayas themselves. And, as Attenborough points out, it turns out the Himalayas are 'far from eternal'. And what's so great is that, within only a few minutes, he's made - and substantiated - some extraordinary claims (some of which, for example plate tectonics, were still not generally understood as recently as when Attenborough was at university in Cambridge*), which are now what many of us understand to be 'common knowledge', and all thanks to advances in scientific understanding made in very recent times.

He then moves on to discuss and illustrate the awesome mechanisms that sculpt the earth, walking round the sulphurous rim of Krakatoa, or delivering lines on the formation of the planet, as molten lava (in some Northen location like Iceland or Greenland, I believe) erupts behind him. And this is all within the first half hour of episode one! I've only given the sketchiest summary: the rich detail Attenborough and his superb team present is simply astonishing, and truly wonderful.

This series, as old as it now is, remains a real treasure, and, at less than a tenner**... amazing!

* Read about (or listen to) the story behind this in Attenborough's excellent autobiography, Life on Air.

** When we got our copy.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2008
This series is takes you on a fantastic adventure around our planet. Its subtitle "A Portrait of Planet Earth" really says it all. This series not only gives a fascinating overview of natural history but also delves into subjects as diverse as geology and environmental physics to name but two.

David Attenborough is at his finest. This series is every bit ground breaking as Life On Earth and The Trials of Life. The camera work is stunning and takes you into the heart of some of the most inhospitable environments on the planet.

A fascinating and highly entertaining documentary series!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Once again, Sally-Anne "mynameissally" from Leicestershire, United Kingdom has written a very full review and, combined with the product details, she makes another one unnecessary. Thank you.

Davud Attenborough and the BBC are a guarantee of high quality and this series was just that. High quality.

Recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2010
Truly one of the greatest documents on the staggering vastness of life on earth. It reveals mechanisms of evolution in the crisp, beautiful and eloquent way. Covers all of the main ecosystems on our planet including these created by homo sapiens.

As far as the technical side is concerned. There's of course a lot of grain and the sharpness is by no means HD. But in my opinion ot does not have any meaning. The true value lies in brillinat screenplay, great scenes themselves and gripping storylines. Thus it makes no sense to watch contemporary documents created in HD, but lacking the proper film-making craftsmaship. Not to mention today's MTV-based editing, which turns great natural events into annoying pop-clips.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2011
This DVD is obviously the forrunner of the "Planet Earth" series, much footage is seen in it, but there are also stuff not included in the later series. And since David Attenborough is always a guarantee for good quality, I'd recommend this to any fan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2011
This documentary may look old fashion in many ways. But, nature will never be out of fashion and the work and dedication which has been put into the making of the series is just remarquable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2009
The video is great. The imagery is excellent, the commentary still insperational and it's not edited from the original presentation that I can tell. But...it won't play on my Blu-Ray DVD player attached to my TV. However, it does play on the Blu-Ray DVD burner/player in my computer. It appears to be related to the Regional Format ... my US DVD player won't play DVD's from the UK.

Just keep that in mind for any US purchase.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2013
I bought this for the elderly residents that I work with and they have really enjoyed it. Arrived on time,packaged well and a great price.
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on 2 March 2013
this title is showing its age a bit. As with other older series it is in 4:3 format rather than widescreen though you can always zoom in a little if you want to. Image quality is better than the earlier Life on Earth series on DVD but like that series, this one would benefit greatly from being remastered for blu-ray. The radiophonic music is a little intrusive at times - like an early episode of Dr Who. There is also a rather silly "making of" doc by Miles Kington which is probably best ignored - thank goodness this comic tone has been dropped subsequently.

Having said that, this is a landmark series which is well worth another look if you have an interest in the subject. It starts in the mighty Kali Gandaki river gorge in Nepal, examines different habitats around the world and holds one's attention until the last episode which focuses on man's impact on the planet through overfishing and deforestation.
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