Ian Stewart is the best. Buy his other video too ("Earth the power of the planet"). Great, adventurous, enthusiast, and yet precise, informative and clear. I don't want to tell too much about these 2 DVDs, you won't regret watching them yourself. Like in "Earth", numerous locations around the planet are explored. Makes you understand how history and geology are intertwined, and that history is NOT a list of stupid dates but an interconnection of events where nature plays a significant role.
I think this is one of the best geographical documentaries I have ever seen. Spectacularly filmed and awesome scenery!
Iain Stewart is a great presenter, always on the go, touching, tasting, feeling the elements of the Earth. It's a lesson in Geography but certainly not boring.
I don't know why but love the scene with the bubbling oil - it is like boiling treacle and really strange. In fact there are quite a few strange and wonderful things in the series. Like the Arctic Underground Svalbard Seed Vault where they are gathering samples of all the earth's known seeds and grains, like human squirrels. And the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where a 100 million tons of plastic bottles and waste drift across the ocean and cover an area twice the size of the USA. And the Naica Cave which is 50 degrees C , 100% humidity and filled with gigantic, weird but amazing rod-shaped crystals. And Iain Stewart isn't scared to get stuck in - when he visits places like the Naica Cave that are too hostile for humans, he just gets kitted up in protective clothing and breathing gear and wades on in!
All in all the Series is great. Not only is it really interesting and exciting but also it is a beautifully filmed and edited documentary. Great stuff!
Oh that damn music, exploding onto every gap in narration like a disease, wailing voices, crunching guitars, pop ballad violins, pop video photography - why oh why?? Then there 007 Prof Stewart zooming along in speedboats and sports cars, microlights and jet planes............ ending up in all sorts of lovely places for at times quite tenuous reasons. Please I did like a lot of the content and imagery and the concept is great - though some of the claims in the last episode wiffed of pseudoscience. That said I did enjoy most of the series- when the music wasn't driving me to distraction or the needless 'wow' factors weren't annoying me too much. It's just for a subject as interesting as this and a presenter with an obvious passion and knowledge of the subject do we really need all this razmattaz to keep the viewer interested? For me it distracted and distressed and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Iain Stewart is a deeply compelling enthusiastic presenter (who knows when to shift fast after setting light to any outgassing methane hole). This series is glorious on blu ray. Don't forget to compare the price of the BBC combination set with "Power of the Planet" - called "Earth- The Box Set" as this worked out to be better value currently.
I found this documentary absolutely brilliant. It can hold your attention, it is informetive, interesting, and full of stunning visuals. It illustrates how lovely and unique our planet is without moralizing or patronizing the viewer, but still makes the point of how fragile the balance is.
I originally bought the series in an attempt to interest my children in something other than entertainment programs. I bought both "How the Earth made us" and "Earth, the Power of the planet" in a box set, which I can recommend. My 6 year old is too young for a documentary with no dinosaurs in it, but my 9 year old daughter has responded well, provided that I watch with her and explain the more complex concepts. It is divided into episodes, which makes it easier for younger vieweres to digest, dealing with four basic elements. Information is concise and to the point (not like some programs which spin out info idefinitely and try to build suspense).
The BBC's science dept has out-done itself recently, and this series is one of the most lively and engaging they've produced. It looks at how the geology of our planet has shaped human development and society, and uses stunning photography from around the globe to illustrate each episode. I enjoyed Professor Iain Stewart's previous series Earth : The Power of the Planet - Complete BBC Series [DVD], and he's a very likeable, down to earth and knowledgeable presenter. That's just as well because he's on screen for most of each hour-long episode he and provides the narration, too; there may well be a team of researchers working in the background but few other experts or talking heads play a part in this series.
Instead, Prof Stewart travels to iconic, beautiful locations like the Sahara desert, the West African coast, a crystal cave in Mexico, holes in the Iranian desert, frozen Iceland, the Indian monsoon and a salt glacier (an extraordinary sight indeed), while examining how geological forces have played a part in the rise and fall of various human civilisations. Different episodes look at volcanoes and earthquakes; the forces of the wind and how it affects weather and trade, water and our use of it in irrigation, and fire; oil, and the industrial revolution. Some of the snapshots are obvious and familiar, and an explanation of why fault lines cause earthquakes was extremely timely. But some of the segments are utterly unexpected and wonderful, like the astonishing crystal cave (which will look wonderful in high-definition) and the amazing living bridge in the Himalayas which withstands the rushing floodwaters every year.
Things get a little bit maudlin when Prof Stewart considers the slave trade, and again when he gives a mini-lecture on how some civilisations fell because they failed to take good care of scant resources. It's hard to give a lecture on living frugally and taking care of the planet when you've obviously been galloping around it for the sake of entertainment - although there is quite a bit of striking new footage in these films, plenty of it could have been illustrated by archive material and all those air miles could have been saved...
However, the majority of the programmes are heavy on information which is presented in an entertaining manner, and the moralising is kept to a minimum. There's quite a bit of use of graphics which come in really handy explaining how different wind systems work and why weather is so difficult to predict. I now know what the Jet Stream is! From that we can understand why some areas of the world were easier for Europeans to reach, and why certain trade routes developed, and why some islands took forever to be `found' by the first sailing ships. Likewise, the role of fire in establishing the industrial revolution in the old world, with all of the effects that history has had on the modern world, was fascinating. The 'fire' episode in particular explains what the carbon cycle really is, and why it has been so important to the development of the modern world. The final, fifth programme is also worthwhile (although leans a little towards the lecturing) as it explains what effect we have had upon the planet; humanity is another natural force and we have made earth in some ways...
Prof Stewart has produced a wonderfully intriguing series of visually impressive lectures, which really do explain just how the forces of our planet have shaped human society. Not a dull moment in them; and the DVD set comes with a behind the scenes documentary too. Suitable for all ages and any enquiring minds.