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Case Number 01076

Buy Survival at Amazon


BFS Video // 1996 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // April 27th, 2001

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All Rise...

Take one look at the cover of this disc and you'll see that it's nothing more than a blatant attempt to cash in on the success of Survivor. Read along as Judge Norman Short fashions his verdict out of edible tubers and pine sap.

The Charge

Learn to become a Survivor in the wild.

Opening Statement

If you've ever been lost in the woods, then you know things can get pretty scary, especially if you are far from civilization. Most people have no idea what to do in such an event; which is why 99% of the people who go to our national parks and other wilderness areas never leave the trail. As a former avid camper and hiker, along with having military experience, I've picked up some tips on survival in the wild over the years. However, I was still to learn a thing or two (or seven) by watching Survival, a DVD education in wilderness survival from BFS Entertainment. While it falls short of a complete guide to survival, it makes a great starting point, and could really make the difference between life and death in an emergency. I love it when DVD gets used for other constructive purposes besides movies.

The Evidence

Starting with the very basics, the narrator tells us about the seven enemies to confront or defeat in a survival situation: 1) fear and anxiety, 2) cold and heat, 3) thirst, 4) boredom and loneliness, 5) fatigue, 6) hunger, and 7) pain and injury. Taking these enemies on one by one, outdoorsman Mel DeWeese shows you how to overcome them and survive. For example, being prepared and having skills as shown on this DVD will help a great deal with the first, fear and anxiety. He goes on to show you different survival kits, which range in size from a tackle box to something that would fit in a pocket. Some of these are available commercially, but he also shows how to put together something on your own. Just having that kit would go a long way toward surviving until rescue could arrive, but fortunately the course goes on to show how to make do without a kit as well. As another example, if you had the kit, starting a fire wouldn't be much of a problem; but if you don't have matches or other fire starting device, he shows 17 ways to start a fire without matches. Fire, of course is the way to defeat cold, and also helps with thirst and first aid if you can then boil water.

From there we go into things like various ways of signaling for help, and even shows how those methods look from over half a mile away. Some of them aren't very effective, while a reflection off a mirror can be seen for miles. Making shelters, traps for food, finding edible plants (and avoiding poisonous ones) are also covered. The difference between desert and wooded, and hot and cold environments are also taught. I was surprised by how much was covered in just one hour.

The DVD looks very nice, although it isn't trying to be particularly artistic. The full frame picture is sharp and clear, and the scenes in the wilderness look gorgeous; making me want to get out and go camping again. Audio is just front-loaded dialogue, but you can understand every word clearly. There is no extra content; I would have liked to have gotten more information or at least different places to buy the survival kits.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Though the course is pretty comprehensive, there is only so much you can do in an hour. For example, he tells nothing for how to contain and boil water if you don't have a metal container. From my own training I can tell you that you can make a bowl out of bark, and so long as you keep the flames below the waterline, it won't burn. Boiling water can be very important to avoid diarrhea, which could be debilitating if you have to wait too long for rescue or have to hike out yourself. The importance of boiling water is covered, but you might not know how to do it if caught without a pan from the course alone. Likewise, though the program does show poisonous plants out in the wild and identifies them, it is unlikely without some prior effort on your part you'd be able to remember what you can pick and what you can't. Even if you've seen a firebow used in the program, you'd find it very difficult to start a fire with one if you haven't had some practice (just watch the movie Cast Away to confirm this).

Of course this is only a starting point. Certainly a longer, more thorough course would have been nice, but it still wouldn't teach you everything. Still, so long as rescue wasn't too far off or if you had the survival kit, the knowledge you learn from this DVD could make all the difference.

Closing Statement

Discs like this show that DVD can be an educational tool as well as an entertainment medium. In this case I thought the program was both educational and entertaining. At a retail price of $14.98, and available online for less, this would make a nice purchase for someone who wanted to get off the trail and away from the crowds.

The Verdict

I find all involved to be innocent of any charges, and no indemnity to be held against them for what you learn or do not learn from the course. BFS is once again acquitted for providing an interesting alternative for DVD.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 80
Extras: 0
Story: 88
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: BFS Video
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• None

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