Fox // 2009 // 118 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // June 25th, 2009
Experiment the wonderment of our world.
Released simultaneously in theaters, on television, on DVD, and on the Web on World Environment Day, Yann Arthus-Bertrand's documentary Home is a visually stunning look at what makes our planet so beautiful and what eventually threatens to destroy it. Featuring marvelous footage from more than 120 locations in fifty-four countries, the film draws an alarming portrait of the rapidly changing conditions that imperil everything we love about the gigantic place we call home.
Essentially, Home is one of those documentaries spending considerable time examining in what ways humanity is contributing to the slow, painful destruction of Earth. From a short introduction of how humans became navigators and later creators of towns and large cities, to the beginning of agriculture and how it rapidly changed the relationship between humans and nature, the film explains viewers to what extent the growing world population, the discovery and exploitation of oil, and the dramatic increase of international trade all contributed to the weakening state of nature and the swift rise of the menace that is global warning.
Home is not exactly a wakeup call, however, and most of the things you hear and see in this film probably won't surprise you unless you've been living in a cave for the past years. Whether we all care enough or agree with it, the central message here is one we've heard many times before: our planet is in trouble because of us, and we are the only ones capable of taking action to avoid the worst. I'm certainly all for keeping Earth in a solid shape, but hammering the message into my head over and over again won't do the trick.
Indeed, if there is anything I didn't particularly enjoy about Home, it's the repetitive narration (by Glenn Close in the English version). The fact that we humans are destroying Earth is not exactly a new one, but Yann Arthus-Bertrand and his team really make sure viewers get their message. I mean, they even devote the film's final 10 minutes to a summary of all the aforementioned main points so we absolutely, totally, surely understand what they want to tell us -- something we already know.
On a more positive side, the film's narration does get interesting at times, and I admit I came across some facts even I wasn't familiar with. For instance, I didn't know only three percent of farmers have use of a tractor. How's that for some compelling trivia? Other than that, Home is enjoyable enough to watch, even though its 118-minute running time is simply too long. I haven't seen many documentaries that run past 100 minutes and kept me engaged until the very end; Home almost lost me as well during the final 20 minutes.
That said, I would still recommend Home because of its array of incredibly beautiful aerial footage. Yann Arthus-Bertrand is an expert in the field, and the shots he captured for this documentary are among the most beautiful I've seen of Earth on the small screen. Wait, let me rephrase that: this footage is actually the most astonishing I've ever seen. Not only does he catch compelling images of vast landscapes and other natural locations, but he also does a glorious job at portraying the energetic majesty of large cities, including New York, Dubai, and Los Angeles. Each and every shot is truly breathtaking.
Luckily, 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray version of Home totally delivers the goods. The disc's 1.78:1 non-anamorphic transfer looks gorgeous, and pretty much every shot is sharp and clean, boasting strong colors and a superb contrast. Even the night shots are impressive to experience in high definition. The solid audio transfer also does a great job at properly balancing Close's narration and Aramand Amar's dramatic score. This version does not include any special features.
Monotonous message aside, Home is worth the investment for its stunning visual aspect alone. The film drags on a bit at times, but all in all, the vast collection of beautiful images offers viewers an intriguing portrait of our home planet.
Despite its flaws, I find this Blu-ray release not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated