DVD Picks & Passes 10.14.2007

The Blue planet: seas of life (2001) - Pick

Planet earth (2006) - Pick

deep blue (2003) - Pick

Now together on DVD in a special 10-disc collector’s edition, the award-winning, 400-minute BBC documentary series The Blue Planet and its even more definitive 11-hour companion series Planet Earth submit more than 17 hours of some of the most engrossing, awesome and unique nature documentary footage ever captured. Narrated by David Attenborough, both series are must-haves for nature lovers.

Presented in eight 50-minute episodes, The Blue Planet offers a rewarding, in-depth exploration of the seas that cover more than 70% percent of the earth’s surface. No matter how many ocean documentaries you’ve seen, The Blue Planet will astonish and dazzle you with creatures you can hardly believe exist, aquatic landscapes from iridescent coral reefs to the vast white expanses of the Arctic and Antarctic, scenes of almost human-like social behavior and remorseless food-chain predation.

Episode 2, “The Deep,” plunges into the darkest depths of the oceans and reveals some of the planet’s most improbable life-forms, bioluminescent creatures that look like more like electric Christmas tree ornaments or Spielbergian spaceships than living things. Seriously: You’ve got to see them to believe them. Episode 3, “Open Ocean,” captures images of an immense school of hammerhead sharks and an undersea volcano.

Other episodes capture rays prowling the ocean floor at night for prey like Dracula enveloping a victim in his cloak, humpbacks blowing bubbles to catch prey and the breeding grounds of southern elephant seals.

With 11 one-hour episodes, last year’s Planet Earth series comes billed as “the definitive look at the diversity of our planet,” and it certainly makes an overwhelming case for its claim. This “diversity” is not just zoological but geological and botanical, as the filmmakers explore the world’s most amazing sights and locales.

Episode 2, “Mountains,” involves location shooting in every mountain range in the world, with amazing aerial photography that includes remarkable footage of rarely seen mountain animals. One breathtaking sequence shows a determined snow leopard pursuing a mountain goat down the face of a sheer cliff.

Episode 4, “Caves,” reveals the staggering scope of Mexico’s Cave of Swallows, a “pit cave” vast enough to swallow the Empire State Building. It’s so wide and deep that skydivers can leap into its mouth and parachute to safety.

There’s also a riot of animal life: a 30-mph wolf hunt, chimpanzee cannibalism and the luminous creature literally known as the vampire squid from hell.

If 17 hours is too much nature documentary for you, don’t deprive yourself entirely of the beauty and wonder of these amazing series. The 2003 theatrical feature film Deep Blue, also available on DVD, offers nearly 90 minutes worth of footage from The Blue Planet, reedited and narrated in the American edition by Pierce Brosnan. A feature-length presentation based on Planet Earth has not yet been released.

Content advisory

Some graphic and gory scenes of predation could be too much for sensitive youngsters.

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