on 26 May 2014
YELLOWSTONE  [Blu-ray] Yellowstone, the world's first National Park, is no ordinary wilderness. It is a lost world of vast plains and endless forests, defended on all sides by towering mountains. Home to America's last great bison herd, the grizzly bear and the wolf - it is the most extensive thermal area on earth, with more than 10,000 boiling springs, fumaroles and bubbling mud pots and more geysers that rest of the world put together. It's these strange natural wonders that first made Yellowstone famous and still makes it unique today. This landmark series reveals the grandeur of this fascinating place as its animals struggle to survive over the course of the vividly changing seasons.
Join the charismatic cast of Yellowstone's wildlife, as they turn to face the extreme challenges of the seasons and discover just what it takes to brave temperatures of 40 degrees below zero, or to live through raging forest fires or to fight to the death for the right to breed. The daily struggles of the wildlife are intimately linked to Yellowstone's greatest secret that sleeps right beneath the snow, which is arguably the largest volcano. The fate of everything in this extraordinary wilderness is in the hands of forces more powerful than we can possibly imagine. Narrated by Peter Firth.
FILM FACT: At the 2009 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, Yellowstone gained the Best Series Award, and "Winter" gained the Best Wildlife Habitat Program award. It was also a finalist in the Best Cinematography category. At the 2009 International Wildlife Film Festival Awards, the series won the Best Cinematography and Best Ecosystem awards, and gained Merit Awards for Editing and Sound Design. Edmund Butt also won the Music for the Original Title award at the 2009 Royal Television Society Craft and Design Awards. The series was nominated for the 2010 BAFTA Television Award for Best Specialist Factual. Won a craft BAFTA for Photography Factual in the same year. In the USA, an edited version of the series was broadcast under the title ‘Yellowstone: Battle for Life.’ It aired as a two-hour TV special, and premiered on Animal Planet on 22nd March 2009.
Producers: Andrew Murray, Michael Gunton, Kathy Kasic, Nathan Budd and Paul Stewart
Composer: Edmund Butt
Cinematography: John Shier, John Aitchison Jeff Hogan, Paul Stewart, Shane Moore and Stephen de Vere
Video Resolution: 1080i
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 2.0 PCM Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Region: All Regions
Running Time: 180 minutes
Number of discs: 1
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Blu-ray discs has propelled the popularity of home video documentaries and firmly established these as cherished demonstration discs the world over. The gorgeous cinematography of the BBC documentary series Planet Earth even set early Blu-ray sales records as one of the best-selling, non-feature film Blu-ray discs on the market and led the way for other nature documentaries filmed in 1080i to the format.
I've always been intrigued by the Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming, U.S.A. Yellowstone was the first area to be granted National Park status at the turn of the 19th Century. An entire eco-system in itself, Yellowstone is home to hundreds of different species and many endangered, from all walks of life; land, sea and sky. However, below their feet the delicate balance of life above ground could be disrupted in seconds by one of the largest active volcanos in the world. Whilst this is only of peripheral concern in the program, the fact of the matter is that the beauty of Yellowstone would be forever changed, as well as causing major worldwide effects when it erupts again. The scary part is it could happen at any time. But as proven time and time again, life finds a way through these calamities.
The `Yellowstone' Blu-ray includes three 50 minute documentary programmes that make up the series and that is 180 minutes of amazing content on the one Blu-ray disc, which makes the price tag very competitive and well worth purchasing and they are as follows:
WINTER  [1080i] In winter, Yellowstone is frozen solid - locked in snow as deep as a house for over six months. Whether you hunt for meat, live off stored body fat or whether you simply hibernate, you need to take every advantage, however slight, to save precious energy - then you might just make it through the winter to enjoy the green grass and balmy days of spring. As we follow the grip of winter over the course of six freezing months, we chart the fortunes of Yellowstone's wildlife in a finely balanced fight to survive. Bison use their massively powerful heads to dig through some of the deepest snow in America to reach the grass beneath. A red fox listens out for mice scurrying six feet beneath the snow before diving headfirst into the drift to snap up its prey, while otters slide through Yellowstone's winter wonderland to find any remaining open water where they can fish. All the while, as the herds of elk and bison are gradually weakened by the cold, one animal gets stronger, especially the wolf. But all is not as it first seems - there are larger powers at work. Whether a wolf, a bison or an elk makes it through is intimately linked to Yellowstone's greatest secret. Sleeping beneath the ice and snow-covered surface is one of the world's largest volcanoes. In an extraordinary twist of nature, everything from the freezing winter cold to the creation of a snowstorm is determined by the power of Yellowstone's volcanic heart.
SUMMER  [1080i] As the spring melts the winter snow, the full extent of Yellowstone is gradually revealed. Now, from the surrounding lowlands herds of elk, pronghorn and bison return from their winter feeding grounds to take advantage of America's richest natural grasslands - right in the heart of Yellowstone. In only a few weeks, a brutally harsh deep freeze has been transformed into a flower-decked nursery perfect for the year's new-born animals. There is also a new cast of characters that emerge bleary-eyed from hibernation as grizzly bears begin to teach their young the secrets of survival in Yellowstone and how to hunt fish in the still-frozen rivers and, as the season progresses, when to move out through valleys and grasslands into summer forests and up into Yellowstone's alpine peaks. In this spectacular wilderness, over 10,000ft high, they slide and scrabble, hunting millions of tiny moths buried under rocks on the barren slopes. But summer here is fickle; even on Midsummer's Day, winter can descend from the surrounding mountains bringing punishing snows to fragile flower meadows. August is the only month in the year when it does not snow, but then, just as it seems the easy living of summer has finally arrived; it is brought to an abrupt end as fires sweep through the forest, laying Yellowstone to waste. Yellowstone is the most geothermally active place on Earth. There are 10,000 boiling springs, bubbling mud pots and fumaroles there, and more geysers than in all the rest of the world put together. But for some, nature's fountains are more than just a marvel, they are an obsession. 'Geyser Gazers' have seen them all and can even imitate them. With bated breath, like train spotters they tut when one is a few seconds late and when another erupts in a new and innovative way they dance for joy.
AUTUMN  [1080i] Over the summer, Yellowstone has flourished in late August there are more living things here than at any other time of the year. But winter is around the corner and there are just two months for all Yellowstone's animals to get ready or get out. An early dusting of snow is a sign for elk to start moving down from the mountains to focus on finding food in the valleys. Although the wolves are waiting for them, the male elk are distracted, their haunting bugle calls boasting that they are fired up and ready to fight each other to the death for the right to breed. As temperatures fall further, beavers get busy in a rush to repair dams and stock underwater larders before ice freezes their ponds. Yellowstone's forests - the aspens, cottonwoods and maples - start to shut down for the winter, their colours painting the park a blaze of red and gold. Meanwhile, another tree is coming into its own, the whitebark pine. It offers up a bumper crop of pine nuts which fatten grizzly bears and squirrels alike. But its nuts are meant for another animal - the Clark's nutcracker - a small bird with a colossal memory and one that will reward the tree's efforts well by carrying its seeds far and wide, and even planting them. As autumn ends, the snow and ice return and many animals now move out from the heart of Yellowstone and away from the protection of the national park. Their fight is not only to survive the cold, but also to find what little wild space remains in the modern world. All around Yellowstone, the human world is encroaching - it is now that the true value of the 'world's first national park' becomes clearer than ever. Mike Kasic is a local sound recordist who got many of the natural sounds for the series, but in his spare time he dons snorkel and fins and jumps into the raging waters of one of the USA's wildest rivers to explore Yellowstone from the point of view of the unique Yellowstone cut-throat trout. Whilst his exploits might seem strange to the other park users - fly fishermen and bison alike - in becoming a fish, Mike not only uncovers an enchanting hidden Yellowstone, but finds out that things are not what they used to be for the cut- throat trout.
Blu-ray Video Quality – `Yellowstone' is presented in a breath-taking 1080i aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The vast majority of the series was filmed with the spectacular RED ONE High Definition video cameras. `Yellowstone' is certainly up to the high standards set by its predecessors including Planet Earth. The series features a very sharp image, with very accurate colour. Occasionally, some scenes will feature noticeably degraded images, but this is more a reflection of tricky filming locations or bad lighting, and not a reflection of the quality of the transfer. Some truly spectacular scenes were captured by the documentary crew and the quality on offer here is equally jaw dropping. It's hard to go back to standard definition documentaries after you've seen these.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The main audio track is encoded in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio. To my knowledge `Yellowstone' is the first BBC Blu-ray documentary to offer a 5.1 audio mix. I can't say it offers a whole lot more to the experience than the standard stereo mixes, but the additional rear effects, including general ambience is welcomed. There's quite a bit of separation in the front channels and the centre channel mostly handles the narration. There are very little low end bass effects on offer is quite superfluous.
Blu-ray Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Yellowstone People  [480i] The Blu-ray edition of ‘Yellowstone' includes a trio of decent documentaries, all of which are presented in standard definition.
Jeff Henry: The Snowman  [480i] [10:00] This special feature profiles the ex-park ranger and winter photographer who works through the winter as Yellowstone's so-called "roof shoveler." His job being to clear snow from buildings during the harsh winters, as their mass and weight can threaten to collapse roofs and cause structural damage to buildings.
Geyser Gazers  [480i] [10:49] This special feature concerns the volunteer naturephiles enthusiasts who help monitor the many geysers around the park, helping to document their activities and predict their often erratic behaviour, that helped the BBC crew capture some of their most striking Geyser footage.
Mike Kasic: The Fishman  [480i] [10:26] This special feature profiles the sound recordist and Montana resident who spends his free time swimming the Yellowstone River. It only amounts to a half-hour of content, but it's certainly better than nothing. Unfortunately at the start of each documentary, the sounds dips and you have crank up the amplifier, but when the main part of the documentary starts, the sound goes loud, I just wish they had spent a little more money and time on putting this very annoying unprofessional part at the start of each documentary right. Despite this slightly negative aspect, it's definitely an interesting series of documentaries and nice that their individual contributions could be acknowledged.
Finally, `Yellowstone' is a really spectacular documentary series and another winner from the BBC. We the British taxpayers, do not begrudge paying for a TV Licence, especially when TV Programmes such as these are the outcome, that is why I am so proud to live in the United Kingdom, as our BBC Television has no adverts to interrupt the flow of the TV programmes. Of note however, normally Sir David Attenborough usually does these types of Documentaries, but instead this time it is performed by the smooth talking actor Peter Firth, who does a really excellent professional job, especially explaining all the different aspects of the amazing and unique Yellowstone National Park. I originally viewed this on BBC Two in the UK and was very impressed then when it was first broadcast, but for a long time I was reluctant to purchase this particular Blu-ray disc, well my doubts were well worth trounced, as it is a totally spectacular Blu-ray disc from the very professional BBC and the images are totally awesome. I also definitely recommend the other BBC EARTH Blu-ray disc `Wild China,' as that also has totally awesome spectacular images, as well as awesome sounds and if you invite your friends round to view both of these BBC Blu-ray discs, I know for sure their jaw will drop when viewed on your 3D SMART Flat Widescreen Television. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom