Thursday, October 25, 2007

Planet Earth: Pole to Pole * * *

Planet Earth: Pole to Pole (link to DVD at Amazon)
Planet Earth is a famous series of nature and animal photography that is renown for its remarkable cinematography and rare footage. . DVD #1 is called “Pole to Pole” and does just that – goes north pole to south pole with some great cinematography. To appreciate this movie, you might want to watch the DVD extras so you know how hard and rare some of the footage is – like that of the Amur leopard, birds of paradise and African wild dogs.

This episode begins in the Antarctic with the, now much photographed, emperor penguin males and then switches somewhat incongruously to the Arctic. Here we see a mother polar bear emerging from a den on a steep slope. The scenes of the little cubs trying to traverse the steep snow is impressive and humorous. Then we move a bit south to the Arctic tundra and see the migration of the immense arctic caribou herds – the herds number 3 million strong. These animals make the longest land migration of any animal, and they are followed by packs of arctic wolves who hunt the newborn calves. Then we travel 500 miles south to the boreal forest that circles the globe and where 30% of the worlds forests are located. Then a little further south to the temperate forests of the Russian Far East where we see footage of the Amur leopard, the most endangered of the big cats. Only 40 of these cats are left. Then a bit further south to Japan, where we watch the cherry trees bloom is fast motion. Spring passes in the north, summer is skipped over, and we jump into fall. We see briefly the huge flocks of Baikal duck as they prepare to migrate south.

We head then to the equator and see some never before recorded footage of a male bird of paradise displaying for a female. It is very cute. So it is kind of shocking that we next move to South Africa and watch huge great white sharks lunching on seals. Then we head over to the Kalahari desert to watch herds of elephants as they migrate to find water during the dry season. We watch as the first rains comes to the Okavango delta which is formed from rains 1400 km away. This is a regular Noah’s art of animals – birds, ungulates, fish, wild dogs and hyenas. There is some especially unusual photography elephants swimming underwater.

Then we end back in Antarctica with the emperor penguins. Unfortunately it’s hard not to tune out at this part. After seeing March of the Penguins, I’ve seen enough footage of emperor penguins to last a lifetime.

Overall, I found episode 1, Pole to Pole, beautiful but not jaw-dropping. It was not like Deep Blue for example. Also the film has no “plot” at all since it is a sequence of cool shots taken from one latitude after another.

Planet Earth: Fresh Water
Planet Earth: Mountains

Rented from Netflix

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