November 15, 2007
| by Marshal Rosenthal
Living in Manhattan for so many years can dull the senses - so I was always happy to take the subway out to Coney Island to visit my Great Uncle Joe. Afterwards I would walk the boardwalk and stare out at the ocean and remember that there was more to nature than concrete and skyscrapers - even if my reality was confined once back home to cleaning sand off of my shoes.
In “Planet Earth,” we have a series that reminds us that we all share the same home, and that it’s bigger and more beautiful that can be imagined. The series doesn’t preach but instead presents views that are breathtaking and awesome - and having been shot in high-definition from the start by the BBC you just know it’s going to be something special. So whether you’re into mountains, rivers, jungles or extreme habitats, there’s much to see in incredible detail that comes awfully close to creating that “window” into reality that salesmen at electronic stores yap about when trying to sell you a plasma. It’s a colorful world at that; sometimes subtle such as haze on the horizon or ice crystals glittering in the sun, or stark contrasts between light and darkness and bold in sunsets. And while you may find scenes highlighted by the high definition, it’ll be the emotional response that will get you. For example, my favorite being the baby turtles inching their way into the ocean despite the high waves pushing them back onto the sand.
That the audio eschews newer technologies in favor of Dolby surround doesn’t matter a whit: the atmosphere created falling in step with the visuals. Certainly it’s more effective than plain stereo, but it’s not designed to usurp what you’re seeing but to aid in creating an overall ambiance.
The BBC developed new filming techniques that could prove interesting to discover. Unfortunately there’s no added content besides the episodes themselves on these discs. While a shame, it certainly doesn’t hamper the enjoyment that you do get with this series.