Friday, October 26, 2007

Planet Earth: Fresh water * * *

Planet Earth: Fresh Water (link to DVD at Amazon)
Planet Earth is a famous series of 6 DVDs of nature and animal photography that is renown for its remarkable cinematography and rare footage. Episode 3 is called “Fresh water” and it shows footage of a variety of fresh water systems from around the world. I’m not sure this particular unifying theme really works, but whatever.

We start in at Angel Falls in Venezuela. Then off to Alaska where we watch some underwater footage of grizzly bears foraging on abundant salmon. Zip, off to India to watch superb underwater footage of smooth coated otters hunting fish. They work in packs and share their catch. A 4-meter crocodile comes along and the otters harass it as a pack and chase it away (no joke, it’s cool). Zip, off to the Mara River in east Africa. The wildebeest must cross in one particular place and here the Nile crocodiles wait. These beasts grow up to 5 meters and they show one taking a full grown wildebeest. Zip, off to Malawi Lake in Africa. These lakes are home to a huge diversity of cichlids. They show some night time footage of dolphin fish hunting for cichlids. The best part is the segment on the emergence of the midges. Zip, off to eastern Russian and Lake Baikal, the largest lake in the world. The lake is full of wacky and one-of-a-kind animals, such as the world’s only fresh water seal. But we don’t stay long at Lake Baikal. Zip, we are off to the Amazon River. Here we have a cool clip of fresh water dolphins, bofeo, hunting fish and performing mating ceremonies. Zip, off to Iguezu falls in Brazil and then to the largest wetland in the world. A short clip follows on some of the fish of this region, including piranhas. Short clip of a crocodile taking a pretty bird. Zip off to India and the largest mangrove forest in the world. Here we have some cool footage of crab-eating macaques that swim and forage under water. Zip, of to the Hudson River delta and some footage of huge snow geese flocks.

Overall, this episode has a few rare clips of rare animals and some cool waterfall shots. The cinematography is ok, but the format of a multi-location theme, in this case ‘fresh water’, leads to disjointed clips and the lack of a unifying story. This one is probably hard for kids to follow; it is very disjointed. You might want to have a globe handy and plan to pause to show where the footage is taken. Or maybe just use it if your kids are doing a report on one of the regions and would like to see some footage of the animals there.

Planet Earth: Pole to Pole
Planet Earth: Mountains

Rented from Netflix

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