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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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It was Mark Twain who is usually credited with originating the maxim that "the only two certainties in life are death and taxes" He was wrong since Twain never had the benefit of the wonders of the BBC Natural History Unit whose certainty appears to be the complete inability to construct a bad programme. Time after time they have achieved the consistant feat of producing the most wonderful and lavish programmes which throughly inform and educate. This latest series is a variant on a theme since the "Human Planet" looks at us as a species particularly our behaviour in subsistence and fundamentally dangerous environments (with the exception of the last episode "Cities") where humans are most challenged by nature, eco systems or competition with other mammals and animals.

The Human Planet is a series packed with what television producers describe as the "gawp factor". It is beautifully filmed and the intriguing "Behind the Lens" segments to every programme show the scale of the logistical challenge for the BBC film crews and the lengths they go to for the perfect shot. The background to the technical filming of the Loatian fisherman Sam Nang in the episode River is as fascinating as Nangs own precarious shuffle on a old blue pair of flip flops across the raging torrent of the Mekong River below suspended on self strung wire. Likewise throughout the warm narration of actor John Hurt is excellent (although the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough are missed) while the dramatic music provided by Nitin Sawhney adds considerably to all the drama. But obviously the main stars are the eight programmes human subjects with massive highlights screaming out of every episode. Some of my favourites include the Algerian well diggers, the Inuit fishing for mussels under sea ice as the tide rushes back, the race against the elephants to a desert waterhole by a teenage cow herder Mamadou who battles against a huge bull elephant, the Dogon people of Mali in a huge scrum frantically fishing fish in the sacred water of Lake Antogo, the uneven match of three men against 15 hungry lions, the hugely colourful and often amusing Wodaabe men and their bird like courtship dance and most of all the brilliant episode on the Jungle including the death defying search for honey and the Papuan Korowai tribes massive feat of tree house building.

There are some faults in the series not least that the last episode "Cities" which while excellent seems slightly out of kilter with the rest of the series. It serves however as a fair warning always to choose your New York restaurants very carefully, and who could not be struck by the frustrating and poignant portrayal of a poor women market trader in Jaipur and her struggle against a gang of thuggish and marauding Rhesus Macaque's. On a larger scale than this there has also been some debate and complaints about the level of animal bloodletting in the series and perhaps the warnings of this could be clearer and the start of the programmes. The hunt of sperm whale in the first episode "Oceans" may be disturbing to some viewers likewise the brutal capture and kill of a huge Greenland shark in the third episode who is fed to dogs. Yet this series serves to remind us that we are mammals that dwell in nature and not everyone has a local supermarket packed full of food nicely shrink wrapped/presented and almost divorced from any act of killing. The death of the sperm whale in particular is shown as an essential lifeline to the Indonesian villagers who take a maximum of six whales per year and battle the whale in wooden boats over an agonising eight hours. Some may argue that this doesn't make it right but it proves that for many humans their daily existence is a Darwinian challenge to survive.

For the technical amongst you the series is stunning to watch and filmed in High Definition 1080/16.9 although you need to carefully navigate the discs opening formats since you can find yourself unwittingly switching on (for me at least) a somewhat intrusive audio navigation. All in all this is a complete triumph for the BBC/Discovery Channel and even if you have seen the series on TV this Blu Ray set repays an immediate and more detailed second visit. This is a series filmed over four years and nearly a hundred locations which is destined to be weighed down and laden with awards. It is one which the BBC should be justifiably proud of since it is a fantastic television achievement and groundbreaking in scope, scale and ambition. The use of the word "essential" at this point almost seems superfluous, buy it now.
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on 29 March 2011
I cannot think of words good enough to describe this series - it was utterly amazing, fascinating, informative and always stunning! The BBC always does good natural history programmes, but this one was, without a doubt, one of its best. The Madagascar one was also stunning, but the Human Planet showed how we, as humans, adapt to the different environments in which we live. I loved the one about the Tibetan family who had to walk for six days along a frozen river for the children to get to school! How many children in this country would even think about doing this - if they can't be taken a mile or so by car, they moan!! This series should be compulsory watching in ALL schools, both primary and secondary, so that all children can see how other people live and survive in sometimes very hostile environments.
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on 6 September 2012
My kids loved this when watched on BBC i-player, so after 18 months I agreed to get the DVD set - which had fallen considerably in price. It's a fantastic series that I'd thoroughly recommend. It 'looks' like a beautiful BBC natural history series but is also great for showing children just how different people's lives can be in other parts of the world. After watching the bit about the children who had a five-day journey to school down a dangerous frozen river my children vowed never to complain about the school run again. They lied, of course.
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on 12 February 2011
Human Planet sets a new standard for natural history film making in my opinion. The HD photography is breath taking with superb choreographing making it seem like you are actually there. Add to this the wonderful touching human stories and you have the making of a masterpiece. Well done BBC and those involved, you've raised the bar once again. Wish I could give it more than 5 stars
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on 21 June 2011
One of the best documentaries I ever saw in my life ...because it is telling human stories, which are totally original.
The pictures are truly amazing. The wow factor appears in each of the 8 themes covered. There is a "behind the scene" feature explaining how they took some of the mind blowing shots and that is very entertaining too. I bought several for my family and friends.
A great gift!
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on 6 February 2011
Narrated by John Hurt, the Human Planet series is yet another victory for the BBC Earth team. For the first time, the series looks at things from the perspective of human beings rather than other programmes which cover life from the perspective of animals. The camera work, narration and just sheer scale of the production are beautiful and the episodes are logically separated. Highly recommended for anyone, not just nature enthusiasts, and an important reminder of just where we humans fit in to the grand scheme of things!
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on 5 January 2012
A very good factual dvd spoilt by stupid loud music.In many parts of the dvd i could hardly hear John Hurts narration,i dont think for one moment if i were going through a jungle,i would be accompanied by a brass band. So only 3 stars.
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on 4 June 2011
When times are stressful and we need a space to relax, watching a segment of these series creates a sense of relaxation and wonder. The filming is magnificent and makes us feel that we are part of something far greater than man ... a magnificent, godly world. Watching Human Planet is special gift.
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on 19 February 2011
Fantastic series. Such beautiful photography alongside informative, interesting stories throughout the series. If you enjoy relaxing and watching programs about faraway and unusual places you will enjoy this!
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on 17 August 2011
Beautifully filmed and fascinating documentary. I enjoyed it very much and watched it several times. A testimony of human activities that in some cases are quickly disappearing.
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