Animal Planet // 2008 // 43 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // April 1st, 2009
Discover the world's most captivating reptile.
If you're anything like me, you may very well think that a title like The Beauty of Snakes is something of an oxymoron. Though I love animals in general, even most reptiles, I'm sorry to say that snakes have always unnerved me a bit and they probably always will (this is undoubtedly some sort of psychological issue inspired by my irrational love of the Indiana Jones films). That being said, I enjoyed this Animal Planet documentary, which offers a brief yet informative look at the lives of snakes. The documentary quickly runs through several important stages in the lives of snakes:
Mating: We are introduced to the infamous boa constrictor during this section, and watch as a snake sheds its skin in the hopes of attracting a mate. Apparently, the unique scent that a snake gives off is designed to appeal to other snakes. Do you want definitive scientific proof that snakes are gross and perverted? Try smelling a snake sometime. You sick reptiles.
Birth: Watch as a Garter Snake gives birth to 30 slimy little snakes babies. I kid you not; there are few things more disturbing than watching a snake give birth in hi-def. It's remarkable to note just how quickly these snakes turn into killers, hunting prey and eating small bugs within minutes of being born. We're also given a look at the Corn Snake, which lays eggs and leaves them rather than simply giving birth to full-fledged snakes.
Senses for Survival: This documentary suggests that snakes, despite seeming like villainous predators, actually lead rather desperate lives. Many snakes have very poor vision, and have to rely on their sense of smell to survive. If they lose that sense, they're more or less done for. Even so, it's hard to picture the snake as an underdog when one considers that their sense of smell is approximately 10,000 times stronger than a human's. During this section, a rattler and pit viper get a chance to jump in the spotlight.
On the Move: An examination of the unique and unusual manner in which snakes move around from place to place. Assorted techniques and methods are employed by snakes, though one can more or less describe all of these techniques as, "Ewww!" As you might expect, the Sidewinder is highlighted during this section, in addition to the Cape Cobra (the latter included to lead into a discussion about the way snakes move in water). This section also discusses the theory that snakes evolved from lizards, and how that evolution potentially plays into the current manner in which a snake moves from place to place.
On the Hunt: Basically, snakes kill other animals. So, you lucky kids get to watch as a wide variety of snakes hunt down and destroy mice, worms, and ducks. We also get a look at the relationship between snakes and humans, and an explanation of why snakes tend to gravitate towards areas with lots of people. This section culminates in a surprisingly tense and disturbing showdown between a snake and a dog. The only thing that perturbs me about this section is the way it comes close to veering into cheap exploitation, with images of sleeping babies contrasted with shots of hungry snakes.
The hi-def transfer here is nothing short of fantastic. The image is pretty close to perfect throughout, with no discernable scratches, flecks, or grain. The level of detail is remarkable here, allowing viewers to see every creepy detail. Blacks are rich and deep, and the colors are vibrant and lively. There are a lot of knockout shots within the 43 minutes of footage contained here. The audio is effective enough, though I was disappointed that it's simply standard 5.1 surround. The music here is considerably more low-key and sinister than usual for this sort of thing, often playing like a horror score with bits of jazz thrown in on occasion. There are no extras of any sort on the disc. Considering the brief runtime and the lack of any extras, it's difficult to recommend a purchase, but the documentary is worth a look for those interested in a quick introduction to snakes.
Not guilty, but don't think for a minute that this means we're friends, you
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Animal Planet
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* DTS HD 5.1 EX (English)
* DTS HD 2.0 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 43 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Press Release