on 23 August 2012
There are times when you know you have brought your kids up properly. Pretty decent gift buyers at the best of times, mine excelled their own high standards when they raided the piggy bank to buy me the BBC's Frozen Planet on Blu Ray for Christmas.
Having watched it and loved it when it was broadcast on TV, and in High Definition, this wasn't the same as when I reacquainted myself with the Planet Earth series I'd seen on normal TV when the Blu Ray box set came out, and finally got to see it in all its HD glory. This was quite simply a case of really having to have this on disc, for posterity, because it's such a damn good series.
All the elements we have come to expect are here - and what high standards we have been allowed to develop! - Attenborough's obligatory, authoritative narration of course. Stunning visuals, high drama. A glimpse of living things and environments so alien to the way most of us live, it's surprising that we even occupy the same planet.
The standout moment in the series for me was the devastating encounter between a bison and a wolf in the Arctic, in which predator and prey (the latter many times larger and more powerful than the former) are separated from their respective groups and face off in perhaps the ultimate life or death batttle ever captured in a nature documentary. I was emotionally drained when I watched it, and it retains its power on repeat viewings. It really brought home what a titanic struggle the daily life of some animals can be.
There have been so many nature programmes over the years that you wonder if there's a tiny corner of the planet that hasn't been filmed yet. But still Attenborough and the BBC deliver surprises, and show us new worlds right under our noses. The astonishing stretch of frozen forest and tundra across Earth's northern hemisphere. The underwater world under the Antarctic ice, with its dazzling array of strange creatures and occasional marauding whirlpools of iced water full of substances that kill everything they touch.
As ever, there is as much entertainment to be had in the short snippets of how the various teams captured the footage for the show, from the sociable penguins, killer whales who seemed almost to mock their observers like celebrities playing cat and mouse with the paparazzi, to the incredible story of how they managed to film the wolf and bison sequence. It always hits home how much the filmmakers go through to deliver these nature programmes - luckily it has been worth it when you see the finished product. An essential Blu-Ray purchase.
on 13 October 2012
If you think about it, the poles would be the worst places for a filmmaker, mainly because there is nothing to the landscape except white, white and more white. But Frozen Planet on Blu-ray is gorgeous, with icy textures and snowy contrasts so vivid, it really feels like you're there. FP is not just about the landscape and the wildlife, but also the people who eke out a tough and sometimes treacherous living in the frozen clime. most amazing is the people who go out on a limb and a rope (literally) down the side of a jagged cliff just to collect bird eggs for their diet. Then there's the mind-blowing technological feat of building a huge research station in the Antarctic, with about 50 people working there at any one time. Imagine, -40 degrees out in the wild Antarctic winter, but 24 degrees within the high-tech research complex, and the greenhouse in there is the single brightest spot in the whole south pole during winter.
But the series is also strong on emphasising the melting ice and rising ocean levels due to climate change, and leaves us with a strong warning that all is not well with the Earth. With such gorgeous visuals of the natural landscape of the polar ice caps, it is impossible that the viewer not be moved by the destruction of nature by our irresponsible human hands.
on 12 December 2011
I must admit, I was expecting a lot from this new series. It lived up to my expectations and more!
The 1st episode really gets the series of to a spectacular start and, with the odd exception, it stays at that standard throughout the series.
Wolves, bison, owls and of course penguins and killer whales are just a few animals that are featured in this series. Other clips of glaciers and brinicles are just staggeringly beautiful. My 'WOW count' was undoubtedly in double figures!
A 'must' buy for anyone's DVD/Bluray collection. You'll watch this more than once just to appreciate how beautiful it looks.
on 23 April 2016
Frozen Planet: The Complete Series arrives on blu ray with MPEG-4/AVC 1080i 1.78:1 encode. There are three BD-50 discs, with a total time of 346 minutes. This is the latest flagship release of the BBC's Natural History Unit, the next in line in the epic 'Planet' series after Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, and Human Planet. It was produced by Alastair Fothergill, executive producer of Planet Earth.
The following review is based on the set that I purchased from UK, with David Attenborough's narration.
1. "To the Ends of the Earth"
6. "The Last Frontier"
7. "On Thin Ice" (David Attenborough's view on climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic.)
This set will be released on Amazon.ca April 17, 2012. Prior to North American release, the "butchered edition" will be shown on Discovery Channel, with Alec Balwin as narrator for the first 6 episodes. There was a lot of political controversy about Episode 7 (global warming). At first, Discovery balked at showing that, obviously for political reasons. It seems that they have changed their mind, and will show Episode 7 with David Attenborough's narration.
So, should you buy the North American release, beware of the version you are actually purchasing. Without a doubt, David Attenborough's UK version is my only recommended version.
I was initially a little concerned about 1080i. Planet Earth, Life and Human Planets were all 1080p (UK versions). But after watching the video, my fear was allayed. The cinematography was truly spectacular. This landmark, six-part series from the BBC's world renowned Natural History Unit brings to the screen the frozen wildernesses of the Arctic and Antarctic. Ambitious and epic in scale, it is the ultimate close encounter with the polar regions, capturing all the jaw-dropping beauty and majestic power of the elements. The images were sharp with lots of details. Using the latest camera technology to film on land, from the air, underwater and below the Arctic ice cap, producer Alastair Fothergill gave us spectacular icescapes and the fascinating lives of different iconic animals, from polar bears to Adelie penguins, from killer whales to wandering albatross, struggling to survive.
This seven-part seven-hour series covers the natural and wild habitat of the Arctic and Antarctic circles, covering indigenous life, their survival tactics, hunts, and mating cycles, as well as the landscape and natural events, most of which involve ice in dozens of surprising forms, and the extensive effects of the seasonal cycle. The first episode is a kind of overview, four more episodes cover these habitats during the four seasons, the sixth episode covers various human explorations, studies and residents of these regions, and the final controversial episode covers melting ice and global climate change. I find that the contents of the first 5 episodes much more interesting and intriguing - the majesty of rare animals and their complete and total singularity in nature that make their introductions so indelible - like polar bear teaching the young ones to swim, penquins, jumping from the water and then flying gracefully through the air (in slow motion) to land on the ice. You can see every drop of water splashed through the air. (5/5)
The DTS HD 5.1 sound was also very engaging, but never intruded into the video. The audio was very well done. But the star of the audio was not the music, but David Attenborough's narration.
David Attenborough has this uncanny ability to make the mundane absolutely enthralling. He takes the viewer on a journey around the two poles as he brings us stunning views of the wildlife, the environment and the people. His narrative is very informative...simply first class! He not only narrates this one in superb, warm and energetic form, but even makes a couple of appearances in the harsh Antarctic locations at the age of 85! (4.5/5)
UK vs US versions:
The contents are basically the same. Both videos are in 1080i and equally spectacular. Both audios are in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Both are narrated by David Attenborough - very important! No Alec Baldwin in the US version.
The front covers are different: UK version: picture of an ice field; US version: a lenticular 3-D cover containing a penguin flying through the air and 3 polar bears with whales at the background. Personally, I find the cover of the US version more handsome. The disc labels are also different, but both looked good.
UK version: 346 minutes; US version: 350 minutes.
Language: UK version: only English; US version: English and Parisian French (meaning French for French Canadiens?)
Subtitles: UK version: only English; US version: English, Spanish, Canadian French (this time definitely for French Canadiens)
Special Features: UK version: On Thin Ice; US version: not stated.
UK version: contains a picture sheet advertising Human Planet Live, with orchestral performance only in UK; US version advertised its version containing 90 minutes not seen on television, plus information to enter the contest to win a polar bear adventure.
UK version: inside cover sleeve contains the picture of a large owl (similar one found on disc 3 label of US version), plus personal comments from the series producers, Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz. US version: inside sleeve is plain.
Prices are very similar: UK £24.99 vs $39.99, before shipping or tax. UK version was released in 2011 vs US version released in April 2012.
UK version (although region free) may not be played on PS3, but no problem with other blu ray player!
Following the footstep of Planet Earth, Life and Human Planets, BBC Earth series has brought us the ultimate portrait of Earth's polar regions. There were many jaw-dropping videos, and the cinematography was first class. There are many demo-worthy materials to show off in my 12 foot wide screen home theatre. The result was simply spectacular. And with an energetic narration by David Attenborough, the final result was simply perfection! I am proud to display these 2 Frozen Planet sets next to the Planet Earth and Life sets. Human Planets is a little inferior and less interesting when one is watching humans performing specific tasks, instead of watching little animals doing their thing in a natural habitat. This set is highly recommended.
on 11 December 2011
Another review said not. I keep saying it about every BBC 'nature'documentary series, and keep being wrong. How do they film the spectacle of the bison and the wolf that you can hardly bear to watch? They even show you how in the 'endpiece' to each programme, and you still can't believe anything can be this good. Yet again, I can't even imagine what they can do to surpass this, and they don't have to- if the next is only half as good, it will still be unmissable.
Our first reaction to this series was `oh no, not more polar bears and penguins' and we very nearly didn't bother, assuming that we really had seen it all before. That would have been a mistake! `Frozen Planet' is a stunner, an astonishing, jaw-dropping film-making tour de force. I've been watching natural history programmes for the better part of four decades, and I spent much of the first episode with my mouth flapping in awe.
Each of the seven 50-minutes episodes explores different aspects of the polar regions, their geology, flora and fauna. Which sounds really dull. In fact, four years of filming has produced some of the most remarkable wildlife photography ever seen - there isn't one highlight per programme, there's an amazing moment in every seven-minute segment. Like the male polar bear, who carefully places his paws into the tracks of the female he was following and then defended until his fur blazed red with his own life blood. Like the splendid, spooky ice caverns deep-frozen underneath an active volcano. Like the most incompetent predator you've ever seen - a comedy sea lion whose penguin prey could barely run away but lived to flap another day. Like the underwater filming in the weird world beneath the ice sheets. Like the sinister, playful, deadly and daring orca pod which sleekly stalked a suitable seal, choreographed wave motion to force it from a floe into the water, and finally dragged it to the depths. Like the huge Canadian wolves, filmed from above as they tackled a pack of bison. Like the boggling time-lapse scene of a glacier graunching its way through solid rock en route to calving vast icebergs - how often can you say you've seen geological processes in action?
After an introductory episode which sets the scene, four programmes look at the season in depth, how humans survive on the edges of the frozen world, and what will happen to the polar regions as the planet warms. Not all of the footage is devoted to big mammals and birds; one fascinating segment explores how a moth freezes each winter as part of its life-cycle (would have loved more info on that to explain how its cell survive ice crystalising within them... but there isn't time for everything!). The stop-motion segments of the autumn onset of the annual freeze are outstanding -- showing the formation of the ice shelf on top of what was open ocean.
The narration by David Attenborough is typically calm, non-judgmental, informative and educational. The underlying premise of this series is that our polar ice caps are shrinking: ours may be the last generation to witness these wonders. But you don't feel lectured or hectored during the programmes - and for once I forgive the use of multiple helicopters and vast (...wasteful...) resources for the purpose of entertainment. The technological achievement in capturing these images is remarkable. Such filming probably couldn't have been accomplished 10 or 20 years ago. This might indeed be our first and last chance to see these wonders.
The 10-minute mini-making-of programmes are fun. The scene where the killer whales pop out to size up the camera crew is priceless. The grit showed by the two-man team sent to film the penguins was admirable, too: demonstrating just how severe conditions can be, and what risks they take to capture these images.
Recommended for everyone.