Customer Review

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars sometimes it just doesn't pan out, 18 Feb 2012
This review is from: David Attenborough - The Private Life of Plants [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Sir David Attenborough. His lifes achievement is something you just have to admire and I do hold him in the highest regards for that.
Therefore I acquired over the years a whole bunch of documentaries and spend thousands on them. But like everything else, it has to be put in perspective.
And that being said I find this to be one of his lesser features.
Why is that?

- The facts are sometimes wrong, either because it just wasn't know at the time or because of lacking thoroughness. For example the Giant Sequoia is labeled the heaviest living creature on earth. Well, I doubt that anybody would not count fungi among the living organism. And there is one genetically identical mushroom in Oregon which stretches for about 2.400 acres, that is 1.665 football fields. In size as well as in body mass it dwarfs the Sequoia. Then a conifer tree is labeld the oldest organism on the face of the earth - about 4.000 yo. Funny thing is, in the documentary "Living planet", Sir D. Attenborough himself exclaimes a Cresote bush to be the oldest living thing and estimates it to be over 10.000 yo.
- And yes, even the Maestro himself is not without fault. In the section about the corals on the 2nd DVD I was shocked to see his behaviour. Someone like him should know better. As a scuba diver he paddels on the reef-top, holds on to the coral, stands up on the coral to explain something to us and then for good measure plunges back into the waves by pushing real hard off the coral. Then, to make it look very sportive, he paddles aggressively among the coral and with his fins breaks off the better part of a huge table corral. The bits and pieces that break off are clearly visible in his path. In short - he does pretty much everything wrong you are supposed to do as a responsible diver and thereby sets a bad example. Sorry to state this harsh critic, but it has to be said. By the way, his statement that coral must have light, is in it's absulteness wrong. It applies to the reef-building coral which do live in symbiosis with zooxanthella. But than there are many coral which do not fall under this category. Amonge those the best known might be the red coral, which is used for jewelry. It grows in utter darkness, upside down from a cave ceiling.
Still, I do love Attenborough in front of the camera, I really do. But then there is this scene with the bush fire. A mediocre small flame is in the grass and a little smoke. And just to prove how agile he is he runs through it. It looks childish and is a rather unfortunate scene. Nothing big, but there are just a few too many of those clunkers.
- Plants is a good topic. And while it was good footage and some of it even great, I must say I have seen better than that - it is not overwhleming like many other documentaries. Also the central theme is there - Plants - , but there is no coherence between the different sections. I had the impression it was footage from the vast stock they have, just thrown together. Very often from the island of the United Kingdom, than again from other parts of the world.

Sorry for listing just the negative. The positive is there as well.
Needless to say, it is fun to watch, very informativ. The sound and picture quality by the standard of the time is good. Nice 16:9 format, which spans nicely across the screen. Something which can not be said about some other productions, like "Life on Earth" for example.
But to be quite honest with you, this is the standard I do expect when I buy a D. Attenborough documentary. So I focused more on the bummers in the hope that you know what you get, but do not get deterred from buying this otherwise nice production.

Still, I don't regret having purchased this documentary. It is nice to watch and I would still recommend it. But one must be fair and rate it according to other productions which are out there and quite simply better than this. It would be unfair to "Earth", "Blue planet", "Planet Earth", "Sharkwater", "Yellowstone", "Pacific", etc. to rate this any higher.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Apr 2012 04:34:02 BDT
David Morgan says:
I am considering whether to buy this. Your terrible spelling and use of English convinces me that your opinion is rubbish. So I think I'll listen to the positive reviews!

Posted on 14 Jun 2012 01:32:10 BDT
B. R. Dean says:
It's rather odd to criticise a programme for not including facts unknown at the time of filming/broadcast. Surely any science is liable to be revised - should documentaries never be made then, as they may later be out of date?

As regards the largest/oldest organisms - these are open to debate. Whether a clonal organism is on a par with a single individual is not clear cut. I would have to say the science in this is fine, and the facts generally correct - as far as one can expect from a short television show.

Essentially all of this was filmed especially, and is not stock footage. If there is a United Kingdom bias - and given how widely they travel, to every continent, I don't see it - that is because this is a UK production aimed at a British audience.

And finally, most of the documentaries you unfavourably compare it to were made a decade or more later, with all the advantages of newer camera technology that entails. Your review is unfairly critical.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012 19:36:17 GMT
I can see your point. But I don't spend money on a product for sentimentel reasons, or in reference to "what was available at the time" or "what was possible". I do believe it is fair to review it as in "best bang for the bug". And if it is not known or was the best that could be done at the time, at least it looks outdated compared to the latest productions. I do believe it is fair to let a potential buyer know that.
But still, there are many other categories. The best example might be D. Attenborough "The Living planet". This is one monumentel achievement. I have hundreds of documentaries (mostly BBC Productions) on my shelf. And this is one which I have to bow my head to. It is neither the most beautiful one nor the most elaborated one and it is somewhat (out)dated. Still I would rate it among the best documenteries I have ever seen. Now, why is that? Because every once in a while comes along a production where the sum is more than just the pieces.
- The approach of presenting environment, or if you want eco-systems and the flaura and fauna which is making a living there is wonderfully explained
- The different chapters are logically interlinked and are just pure fun to watch in a row. As a matter of fact I was glued to the screen for a whole weekend. It is just like reading a really good book. Once you are hooked you have to know how it proceeds.
- Sir D. Attenborough is a genius against his will. He origninally was reluctant to be in front of a camera, because he deemed himself unworthy of it. Yet, me like millions of fan's around the globe have elevated him to the status of beeing one of the most famous if not the most famous ambassador for natures beauties. He is genuine, informative yet never the tutoring type and has just the right amount of humour to it. I just marvel at his lifes achievements so far.

And sorry for the spelling, as I don't check. It is even bad sometimes in german - much more so in english.
But obviously I hit a nerve when it comes to D. Attenborough; he seems to be without fail. And to be fair, in most cases he truly is :-)
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