“The power of the Sun drives the seasons, transforming our planet. Vast movements of ocean and air currents bring dramatic changes, create some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth.”
The Planet Earth series from the BBC brought with it critical acclaim and 11 hours of some of the most spectacular video footage from around the globe that we’ve seen on television. It was a particular treat to anyone who was fortunate enough to catch it on an HD broadcast. Not content with that work, the same team assembled once again to create this follow-up series, Nature’s Most Amazing Events. At first I was a bit skeptical and more than a little worried when I read that the series was going to focus on the effects of global climactic phenomena. I immediately expected another propaganda piece on global warming. If that’s what you fear/hope for out of this series, it’s going to surprise you. Instead the BBC crew takes the Planet Earth cameras to some of the most extreme climactic places on Earth. The piece examines not so much the climate, but the animals that thrive under these intense conditions.
The Great Melt: Go to the Arctic and follow the real life struggles of polar bears and other animals in this frozen tundra.
The Great Salmon Run: The focus isn’t really just the fish and their almost mythic annual migration but on the animals that depend on their journey. The most significant of these is the mighty and fierce grizzly bears in British Columbia. Watch the expert fish catchers doing what they do best.
The Great Migration: Although much of the series is about migrations and animals adapting to changes in their environment, this one has perhaps the greatest number of animals and the most diverse populations. The Serengeti in Africa is home to so many animals that form a sometimes cruel circle of life. Here we examine the rains that visit these plains each year and what that means to life here.
The Great Tide: Billions of sardines enter the South Africa east coast. The arrival of the small fish means food for other animals and millions of people.
The Great Flood: The Botswana Okavango Delta is the subject of this episode just teeming with life. The floods here begin a migration of thousands of miles for the animals dependent on the nourishing waters.
The Great Feast: Alaska’s annual plankton bloom means food for seals and humpback whales, who in turn mean food to orcas.
The series is, once again, narrated by the regal voice of David Attenborough. The ground covered here really isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. The global warming points have been done to death and reek of indoctrination. However, what does allow this release to stand out from the great number of these things we’ve seen is the incredible high definition cinematography. Most of these shows rely heavily on stock footage or relatively poor quality shoots. The BBC knows how to put out production value and has brought high definition to the farthest reaches of the planet.
Each episode is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This stuff makes me yearn for a Blu-ray copy. The images are nothing short of breathtaking even in this standard DVD release. There are some problems with compression artifact, most evident in darker scenes. Still, colors are ultra realistic and the image is about as close to high definition as you can get on a DVD. Black levels are superb. This is what makes the journey.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 delivers, if not in the same spectacular presentation as the image. It’s really merely narration and some score elements. Nothing terribly dynamic, but it works.
The last 10 minutes of each episode offers a production diary, of sorts. It takes us behind the scenes for that particular episode.
I was surprised to find that I found myself almost completely ignoring the narration after a time. The images can be rather mesmerizing. You might even try turning the sound completely off and putting on your favorite music and just kick back and relax. Believe it or not, it works. Although, I suspect that the crew might look at that option and consider it “a big problem”.