Appellate Judge James A. Stewart wants to live on a part-time island.
"Sit back and fly with us over some of the most beautiful sights imaginable."
With Sky View, the title kind of says it all. It conjures up an image of European locales seen from the sky through the miracle of aerial photography, and that's what it delivers. The DVD cover for this Smithsonian Networks offering says it's the result of "cutting-edge, high-definition, camera-mount technology." Having just seen a documentary which mentioned Gaspard-Félix Toumachon, who began aerial photography, it piqued my interest.
Sky View features four episodes, around 26 minutes each, on one disc:
• "Southern Britain"
• "The Emerald Isle"
• "The Heart of Italy"
• "The French Riviera"
Sky View looks as beautiful as you'd imagine. The producers do a good job of striking the balance between obvious tourist destinations like the Tower of London and Stonehenge and lesser-known sights. The sights are augmented by music and narration. The music is gentle and soothing, with local touches such as hints of "La Marsellaise" when appropriate. The narration is meant more to be fun and relaxing than to cram your head with knowledge, but it has some fun facts (St. Michael's Mount, for example, becomes an island in high tide and is believed to be the setting for the "Jack and The Beanstalk" fable). It has few really purple bursts in its prose, although I had to wonder about "A time traveler from the thirteenth century would feel right at home approaching these sturdy walls." I, for one, thought all the cars I saw might make him feel a little out of place.
The object is to show off those high-def cameras and create a relaxing viewing experience, and Sky View does what it promises—a little better than I expected. I liked it, but this one is a matter of personal taste. If the concept sounds deadly dull to you, even the best aerial photography won't change that. If it sounds like something you'd enjoy, you'll like it a lot; it's excellently done and has engaging narration.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Smithsonian Channel
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