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Case Number 16837: Small Claims Court

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Edge Of Existence

Acorn Media // 2007 // 176 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // July 18th, 2009

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart lives somewhere in the middle of existence.

The Charge

"It's a way of life that's truly on the edge of existence—and has never been filmed before."

The Case

Donal MacIntyre started out as a newspaper reporter and moved on to host documentaries and investigative shows on British TV. Eventually, he decided to go a little further out—to the Edge of Existence, where he joins in the everyday activities of people living in some of the most remote regions of the world.

Edge of Existence features four episodes, each about 50 minutes long:

• "Oman"
Donal brings a gift of fruit and a goat to the Bedouin family he's staying with, looks for firewood in the heat, learns to ride and race a camel, and joins the sons on a trading trip to the Arabian Sea.

• "Papua New Guinea"
Donal visits the Insect Tribe, which worships the praying mantis. He hunts wild boar by day and crocodiles by night, and tries his hand at canoeing and archery.

• "Bolivia"
High in the Andes, Donal checks out the Earth's curves on a massive salt flat, travels with llamas, bathes in a freezing river, and chews on coca leaves.

• "Borneo"
Donal visits two families of "sea gypsies" on their boat in the Celebes Sea, dives for large clams, and tries spearfishing.

You could learn a lot from Edge of Existence, as it shows Bedouins adapting to cell phones, pickup trucks, and satellite TV, giving up a nomad existence but staying true to the traditions of a life that revolves around the camel. However, it doesn't have the sober-minded seriousness of other Athena titles I've reviewed. With an emphasis on travel experiences, it has a sense of wonder and fun, and Donal MacIntyre plays the slightly bumbling, good-natured traveler well. He may get a few laughs by putting a pillow on a camel for a long ride, but he's taking the long ride.

What you're most likely to learn from Edge of Existence is that people around the world are still trying to maintain traditional lifestyles, in the wake of mines that could pollute the river in Papua New Guinea, easy access to water in Oman, and pirates in the Celebes Sea. The people Donal MacIntyre visits all take something they need from the modern world—water, engines for their boats, or trucks—but manage to remain true to their traditions.

Athena has included a study booklet with maps, summaries, and thought questions about the cultures explored on the show. On the DVD, there are facts—basic text statistics—on each of the regions and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos.

Edge of Existence is an interesting show, and Athena presents it well.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 176 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Foreign
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Region Facts
• Photo Gallery
• Booklet


• IMDb

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