Case Number 21295: Small Claims Court

ANTARCTIC MISSION: THE COMPLETE SERIES (BLU-RAY)

E1 Entertainment // 2009 // 150 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // May 7th, 2011

The Charge

Behind the serenity and silent beauty of the pictures, we need to hear Antarctica's alarming message.

The Case

"How much is enough?" It's a question award winning, world-renowned Canadian scientist, lecturer and environmental advocate Dr. David Suzuki has asked many times. As we continue to clamor for more stuff to sate our consumer-driven aspirations, we not only push the limits of production and global transportation to meet that demand, but by association, we also continue to drive our negative environmental impacts further and further beyond what the earth and our global environment can process on its own.

I'll do my best to stay off a soapbox during this review, but as we drive our population beyond six billion and show no signs of slowing our consumption of fossil fuels and production of harmful emissions, how long will it be before we come to realize that our planet isn't here to be drained dry, but that we share the earth with billions of other species who deserve the right to exist? For every item we buy in a store, natural resources are required to make it, store it and transport it, to say nothing of the waste and environmental impacts when we tire of something, usually non-biodegradable, and it finds its way into a landfill. Too few of us realize the seemingly minor individual actions have when multiplied by billions of people. Will we ever reach a point where our responsibility to future generations outweighs our near-mindless drive to produce, consume and acquire?

Built in Germany in 1957 as a fishing trawler, the 51-meter long, three-masted schooner Sedna IV was refitted as a sailing vessel in 1992 and equipped with a film studio in 2001 when a Canadian film crew acquired her. Since that point, Sedna IV has been used for scientific expeditions and documentary film productions such as the 2003 film Arctic Mission that saw scientists and filmmakers exploring the north via the Northwest Passage. A companion of sorts to that series, Antarctic Mission: The Complete Series heads south to Antarctica, chronicling highlights of a 17-month expedition braving harsh conditions to study the affects of climate change and global warming on the Antarctic region and the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

Initially, Antarctic Mission: The Complete Series comes across as an HD nature documentary akin to Planet Earth and other similar programs. Narrated by Suzuki himself, the series is divided into three episodes that take a close look at Antarctica and the Southern Ocean food chain, from the smallest phytoplankton to emperor, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, various bird species, fur and elephant seals, whales and other wildlife. Antarctic Mission also explores the significant environmental impact and changes scientists have observed in the region since the '90s. It's not long before viewers will realize that this series is more than pretty pictures from distant habitats...the series is meant to serve as both an eye-opener and a warning. By studying a distant, and one would assume relatively isolated and insulated region of our planet, scientists are learning that our species' impact on climate change is having a truly global effect. From dramatically receding winter ice that surrounds the continent, to recorded changes and impacts on wildlife mating, feeding and population growth or decline, there's no question that climate change is impacting what was once thought to be an insulated part of our planet. Antarctic Mission is a testament to a legacy we may want to reconsider before it's too late.

The series features stunning footage shot in 1080p HD, delivering both breathtaking shots of Antarctic vistas and fantastic fine detail. Whether the camera is focused on close-ups of wildlife or wide shots that include millions of animals or massive glacial peaks, Antarctic Mission has the presentation down cold (sorry!). The 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio mix might seem like overkill for a production like this, but the resulting audio presentation is a perfect match for the images, even exceeding them in a few places; overall, this is a captivating and immersive presentation. In 1990, Suzuki and his wife Tara Cullis co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding solutions to our planet's environmental challenges and in 1992, they wrote the Declaration of Interdependence that forms the guidance principles of the Foundation. The only supplementary feature, entitled "Take Action," has Suzuki and Cullis appearing on-screen, reciting the powerful text of the Declaration, interwoven with beautiful indigenous images and the sounds of nature. There is a powerful message here, particularly in the way we are borrowing from future generations to pay the debts of our excessive societies.

The Verdict

My hope is that as many people as possible will see Antarctic Mission for what it is: an awakening to the damage our runaway consumption has caused and what further damage it may cause in the future. While this film is filled with beautiful images or stunning landscapes and wildlife, it also bears a clear message that we must both hear and act upon.

Review content copyright © 2011 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile
Studio: E1 Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)

Subtitles:
* English (SDH)
* French (SDH)

Running Time: 150 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* featurette

Accomplices
* Official Site
http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/natureofthings/2008/antarcticmission/