BBC Video // 2009 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // June 25th, 2009
"In a few special places, these seasonal changes create some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth."
Have you met your planet yet? BBC Earth, which invites people to "meet your planet" on its Web site, is devoted to documenting the natural world with the loving care you've come to expect from the BBC. Its co-production with the Discovery Channel, Nature's Most Amazing Events, shows six annual events with great impact on wildlife.
Nature's Most Amazing Events includes six episodes on two discs:
* "The Great Melt": It may not be so great for polar bears, but it is for the seals who have an easier time getting away from them. Meanwhile, young wolves and sea birds have to learn fast to prepare for winter.
* "The Great Salmon Run": Salmon return to the British Columbia and Alaska coast to lay eggs, contending with grizzlies, sharks, wolves, and eagles, not to mention low water levels.
* "The Great Migration": Grazing animals enjoy the green season in the Serengeti, despite the danger from lions and other carnivores.
* "The Great Tide": Off the coast of South Africa, sardines -- packed into shoals even in open water -- try to elude fishermen and predatory animals like dolphins and gannets.
* "The Great Flood": Floods in the Okavango bring animals from elephants to termites to graze on fresh grass and drink from newly formed pools.
* "The Great Feast": The food chain starts with phytoplankton and ends with humpback whales. The focus, however, is on herring and their breeding run.
Watching an eagle swoop down on a salmon is a scene of beauty, in the hands of the Nature's Most Amazing Events team, and a storm scene which starts by looking down from above the clouds and then changes the focus to individual drops of water, has a surprising serenity to it. High-definition cameras capture it all without flaw. The sound is a well-mixed combination of David Attenborough's gentle narration, judiciously chosen music, and realistic ambient sounds.
The extras consist of diaries or making-of's for each episode, which show the crews spending months in harsh conditions. It looks like they're new for American viewers, but might have been included in the original BBC broadcasts. The cardboard packaging is thin for a two-disc set.
I liked it, but some of you might be looking for something less like a relaxation tape and more extreme. The best part is that the footage and narration create an optimistic view of survival in the wild, showing the cycle of life as something that must go on. My main complaint is that the salmon and herring runs felt too similar. Isn't there another amazing nature event out there?
If you're not too worried about the making-of's, you should be able to catch up with this one on the Discovery Channel.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated