- Actors: David Attenborough
- Format: PAL
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 4
- Classification: Exempt
- Studio: 2entertain
- DVD Release Date: 30 Nov. 2009
- Run Time: 600 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 350 customer reviews
- ASIN: B002KSA4FG
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,690 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Discover the glorious variety of life on Earth and the innovative, intelligent and sometimes bizarre tactics animals andplants employ in order to survive. More than four years in the making, taking full advantage of the latest advances in filming technology, this breathtaking ten-part blockbuster reveals the natural world's most remarkable behaviour in unprecedented depth and detail. Full of amazing filming 'firsts' on every continent and in every habitat - from 250 six foot Humboldt squid hunting as a pack to Komodo dragons (the world's largest venomous animal) stalking buffalo and cheetahs (notorious lone hunters) working cooperatively to hunt prey twice their size - this is evolution in front of your eyes. Yet this astonishing series is not simply about revelation, it is also about entertainment. With sequences that inspire awe, wonder, sadness and humour, Life allows us to truly relate to the animals and their endeavours, and to understand and appreciate them as never before.
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The Blu Ray comes with 1080p resolution, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 and audio DTS-HD HR 5.1. The series was able to take advantage of the latest camera stabilization technology while filming from helicopters and planes, the results are some sublime overhead and establishing shoots. My favourite comes from the insect episode where the camera starts off looking downwards at a waterfall before smoothly panning up to reveal a lake, beyond that a forest and beyond that again a large mountain in the distance with not a soul in sight.
By 2009 HD digital cameras were in full use by the BBC's natural history unit, having previously been used on Planet Earth (2006) and Life in Cold Blood (2008), no longer 480p but now 720 and then 1080.
The plant episode is one of my favourites with it's expert use of time lapse photography, it feels like an updated Private Life of Plants. The beautiful winter photography in this episode is also a stand out feature. The episode also has more naration and content than the others too its of couse more difficult to tell a story in just pictures even with the over abudance of timelapse photography the oblu shots playes in real time seem to be the overhead establishing ones.
The sound is also crisp and clean, whether it's a trickle of water, a rustling leaf, insect noise or an animal call. The narration from David Attenborough is also distinct, intelligible and is never muffled by the score.
On the critical side some of the most recent releases from the BBC natural history unit feature slightly less factual content, the programme seems more interested in trying to wow you with it's imagery and music than trying to educate the viewer. Earlier series tended to be drier, with more detailed narration. Life just about gets away with it's approach, the content is still very informative, there isn't so much attempt to build up drama or humour as later series would do. During the primates episode the narration did border on stating the obvious too, not trusting the audience to grasp finer points but spelling it all out for them. Attenborough tells us 3 times that the Japanese macaques monkeys in the hot spring exclude other monkeys, it slightly labours the point here. Show don't tell please. These scenes already featured anyway in Life on Earth (1979) so we're not even being shown anything new.
The series is pure eye candy in terms of showing off your HD TV. Even when using minature cameras the image still retains it's high quality.
The smoothness of the shots often seems to have been achieved partly by running the camera across a flat ladder using a machine.
For those interested in the details of the Blu Ray it's Resolution: 1080p, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Audio English: DTS-HD HR 5.1.
Another stand out episode is the insects with frogs leaping in slow motion to catch insects to the sound of violin strings and soft drums.The soundtrack is orchestral having moved away from the more symphonic sound often used in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of the cinematography of the butterflies in Mexico is sublime as is the time lapse photography of changing skies. We also learn a great deal too in this episode about insect camouflage, armour and acid. 85,000 species of fly. It's worth reflecting too on how critically threatened much of this is by global warming and overpopulation. Behind the scenes looking at this episode is also well worth a look. commercial drones for photography weren't really around back in 2009, very different to today. For one shot the camera had to glide along a wire in order to travel with the butterflies. 17 takes were done after 3 days of prep for what probably amounted to 5 seconds of footage.These people are trying so hard to get the right result for the viewer, you have to applaud the results. Unofficial sources put the budget of this programme at around £10 million, it's not just the production where the money was spend I'd bet but also the post production, All the footage looks like it's been extensively colour corrected to ensure everything looks smooth and matches up with the previous image.
Mammal footage lower quality camera used at points
Some shots digitally manipulated e.g. woodland time lapse photography. Honest enough to reveal it though.
Life - Orca. The most predatory of the dolphin family.....KILLER WHALES!
Blue Planet and trials of life already shown orcas hunting seal pubs, again again again...not interested in showing new animals, return time and time again to the same ones.
range of locations, only one in Europe, none in Middle East, Africa, north and south america, Japan.
lacks overall theme, here's a bird in the jungle, 90 seconds, here's one in a forest, here's one in a lake....cut cut cut.
Lacks overall theme. shots reused,
Ridiculous sound effects
By contrast THE LIVING PLANET strikes me as the best nature documentary series of all time: time being the operative word. Time to linger on the subject. Time to show a real series! We've gone from LIFE ON EARTH's 13 1 hour, totally original episodes to AFRICA's 5 43 minute, parson's egg combining stunning, ground-breaking film with rather blatant recycling of old material.
As for LIFE: basically undeniably a must-have item, it does contain the second most gruesome of Sir David's subject matters (2nd only to the nightmarish gray whale episode on BLUE PLANET). Having watched the komodo sequence once, I cannot bring myself to watch it again! Give me an honest tyrannosaur any day.
It is reviewed as edited from 1000s of hours of film, which rather proves my main objection to the brevity and the trivial broadcast time allotted!
The quality of the series itself is beyond question - the vast array of animals covered, and with it their obscure behaviours that we couldn't have imagined, makes this series so good. There is a vast amount of detail in every episode, all presented in David Attenborough's inimitable style.
The quality of the blu ray presentation itself is a benchmark by which others should be judged; whether it is the vibrant, rich colours of the rainforest's chameleons, the detail on the eyeballs of a preying mantis, or a shot of the Antarctic in all of its glory - every scene looks remarkable.
The sound is also outstanding, particularly on surround sound. When there is an underwater shot of fish or whales, every bubble and splash can be heard. When a lizard bites into an insect there is a distinctive, sickening crunch. And when a tarantula is moving in on it's prey, the bristling of the hairs on its legs can be heard clearly. All the while, bird songs and various other wildlife noises can be heard clearly on the other speakers.
All in all, this is the best nature documentary I have ever watched, and the best blu ray I have ever experienced. Buy this now and you won't be disappointed!
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