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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
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on 14 November 2007
I was enthralled by this series when it was originally broadcast on TV. I waited years for it to come out on DVD, putting up with an increasingly fuzzy VHS home recording, even writing to the BBC to implore them to publish it. So imagine how pleased I was when it was eventually released on DVD!

Aubrey Manning's velvet broadcasting style takes the viewer on a deceptively deep and fascinating journey into one of the great mystery areas of science - the nature, composition, origins and working mechanisms of our home planet. Seemingly inaccessible principles are covered effortlessly, principles which are difficult to find anywhere except in the most specialist text books. The mechanics of plate tectonics, subduction and ocean floor spreading, mantle convection, mountain root drop, rebound and flow away, all are explained clearly in a relaxed, informative and entertaining style. How else would we learn so delightfully of the large scale fluid behaviour of seemingly-solid rock, the long term carbon cycle, the role of water in maintaining the dynamic nature of the Earth's deep interior, the unique partnership between life, water and geology which has given us the one habitable world we know of.

You know this stuff is good for expanding your mind, but it's so nice and easy and great to watch. It's like eating bran that tastes of chocolate, spinach that tastes of lemon sorbet, exercising that feels like a caress.

A truly great documentary series, a must have for all science lovers. I would award 6 stars out of 5 if I could!
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on 15 June 2017
The cinematography is quite dated by now and the images are grainy and the colors are off. However, the information contained herein are amazing, the stories are really good, the locations well researched and the DVD was far more gripping than I ever expected from a "history of earth" story of any stripes or colors. The presenter is engaging and makes you feel like you participated in something worthwhile. And it never gets boring, cheesy, overbearing or sensationalist. Wow. Highly recommended.
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on 3 May 2017
A very instructive and educational dvd I really enjoyed it and could not help thinking that it would be perfect for 11,12 and 13 years to study and learn from. For what I paid for it I find it unbelievable value.
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on 10 December 2009
Having just watched this series for the second time on cable, I knew I had to own it.
Geology (and botany) aren't my strongest points, but the clear and concise way that Aubrey Manning (my new hero) has explained - and then gone on to show - the formation and advancement of this amazing earth of ours is absolutely fascinating. Not only that, but he does it in a language that I can totally understand.
If you like the David Attenborough series, you'll love this.
Thanks BBC and A.M.
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on 14 May 2017
sent as a gift
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on 11 February 2017
No problems
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Sit back comfortably in your armchair and let this enchanting and beautifully filmed mini-series excite your imagination as it travels through the 4.6 billion years since the Planet was formed. Journey to the corners of the globe, to the depths of the oceans and to the peaks of the high Himalayas in the company of men and women who explain clearly the elegant scientific theories which support the Planet's story to date. Then further still; to our Moon and the planets of Venus and Mercury.

Every single person involved in this visually stimulating presentation should be highly praised for a great job, well done, none more so than Professor Aubrey Manning whose easy enthusiasm is most infectious!

My only disappointment is that I had to wait so long to view this little masterpiece. Don't know how I missed its original showing!
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on 6 March 2017
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 November 2007
I gave up biology and chemistry in my fourteenth year. I carried on with physics but failed the `O' level. I did well in geography, but my interests at school were more geared towards arts and languages. At university, I did some modules on the philosophy of science and on geology. And I have always had an intuitive regard for landscape history, in which geology is a prime ingredient. In addition, from childhood days I have pondered on the creation of the universe and of the Earth.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it is important to know where I am coming from in order to appreciate the review that follows, to judge whether I am being too naïve. I do not have a detailed scientific background to comment on the veracity or otherwise of the theories proposed in this series. On a number of occasions, it seemed to me that supposed causal links relying on chemistry and physical forces were not described in enough detail for me to grasp in any depth. But on a general level, the series met my intellectual expectations.

I learned a lot; no, I learned a hell of a lot! I learned just how fragile our life is on this planet, how it could quite easily be wiped out by some cosmic event or by an eruption of one of those huge concentrations of magma that exist under, say Iceland or Yellowstone Park. I also learned how much our evolutionary development has been subject to so many chance conjunctions or oppositions of factors. But I guess the real lesson learned is the one which its presenter and `guru' expresses at the end of his journey, namely how the relationship between life itself and the planet that we occupy has ensured the continuing presence of living organisms, for example in keeping the planet cool enough for evolution to do its work.

The presenter is Aubrey Manning, Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Edinburgh, and what a marvellously engaging character he proves to be. Not at all patronising or with his head in the clouds, he has a wonderful tendency to appear as if he is taking you by the hand and slowly and surely demonstrating to you, in the company of other learned colleagues outside his own area of study, the fascinating insights to be gleaned from the Earth's story. Flying all over the world, reporting from Greenland, South Africa, Australia of the mid-Atlantic ridge, his well-intoned words are accompanied by superb photography and stirring music (composed by Deborah Mollison).

The series was originally broadcast in 1998. Whilst the final two episodes raise the spectre of carbon dioxide levels and climate change, there is no direct link made with present worries about global warming. Indeed, the arguments used might lead one to conclude that the vast differences in the planet's temperature merely show present high levels to be part of a natural cycle. But this series is a history covering huge and unimaginable time-spans, and is not really concerned with the minute timescale - a mere 250 years - that has seen the onset of the industrial revolution to today. It would have been interesting to have had maybe some kind of DVD extra in which Aubrey Manning might expand on this issue. Perusing entries on Google indicates that his concerns are more urgent than may have previously been the case.

Each of the eight episodes was produced and/or directed by a different person, so whereas there is an overarching conception throughout the series, there are noticeable differences between each programme. Some are better than others. But overall I was extremely impressed with this marvellous series. One of my friends, who is a senior lecturer in geology, also rates it highly. You will too.
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on 27 September 2007
I saw this series a number of times on cable and actively sought it on DVD, only to find that the BBC had not put this magnificent series on disk. Well, the oversight's been recitified, and not too soon!

If you really want to understand what makes our planet's geology tick, then you must see this documentary. Where does lava come from? Where do continents, indeed mountains, come from? Why is Greece sinking and Scandanavia rising? Most importantly, what is the relationship between life on Earth and its geology? Did you know that life itself has made and kept this world habitable for itself for perhaps billions of years? I didn't - till Aubrey made it clear. This is perhaps the most valuable point made in the entire series.

After watching the series about half a dozen times however, I can't help but feel that there is an episode missing. What drives and fuels Earth's Great Engine, and what is its (and consequently our) future? It's hinted at, but it requires more attention, as well as Aubrey's gentle, inquisitive narrative, (combined with insightful research ;-)) to bring to life this final piece of our planet's life story.

Yet another masterful BBC documentary series.
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