After the success of Planet Earth, it wouldn’t be long before we saw a host of documentaries come down the pipeline in a similar fashion. Now, Planet Earth is an amazing thing, truly spectacular, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s something that everyone should see, especially in high-definition. Warner Home Video, in association with the BBC, has released a new documentary, this time called Earth: The Biography and, yes, they have another winner here. What we see here is just how amazing this planet is and, well, we get to see how it actually works. How one thing affects another, and so on. For those who adore documentaries, this is one that is well worth checking out.
This landmark series uses specialist imaging and compelling narrative to tell the life story of our planet, how it works, and what makes it so special. Examining the great forces that shape the Earth – volcanoes, the ocean, the atmosphere and ice – the programme explores their central roles in our planet’s story. How do these forces affect the Earth’s landscape, its climate, and its history? CGI gives the audience a ringside seat at these great events, while the final episode brings together all the themes of the series and argues that Earth is an exceptionally rare kind of planet – giving us a special responsibility to look after our unique world. This is a series that shows the Earth in new and surprising ways. Extensive use of satellite imagery reveals new views of our planet, while timelapse filmed over many months brings the planet to life. Offering a balance between dramatic visuals and illuminating facts, this ground-breaking series makes global science truly compelling.
What I love about this series, much like Planet Earth is how much we don’t really know anything about our planet. We do know a fair amount about this big ol’ rock, yes, but there’s so much we don’t know and so much we take for granted. Things that we overlook are pushed into the limelight here as we learn just exactly what we overlook and, frankly, it’s staggering. Now, given that this release is basically focusing on the more mundane aspects of this planet, that doesn’t mean we are not in for a spectacular treat. We are! It’s great, and while it can’t match the spectacular scope of Planet Earth, it approaches this planet from a new direction and, in effect, becomes something entirely its own.
This release is composed of five episodes, “Volcanoes,” “Atmosphere,” “Ice,” Oceans,” and “Rare Planet.” The series, hosted by Dr. Iain Stewart, is divided into looking at different aspects of our planet, as you can tell by the episodes titles. What Stewart does is look at the day-to-day aspects of the planet and various processes the planet undergoes. Naturally, since some of these processes take an unbelievable amount of time, time-lapse photography and CGI is used to show us what we don’t see on a day to day basis. It shows us the significant changes this planet undergoes that we will never notice, and it is quite astounding. Everything changes, and we will never notice it because it happens outside of our interest (which I hate to say, but it is true) and out of our lifetime, as well. Whether it is oceans forming, the changes in landmass, mountains rising and fall, all of that stuff that we will never see with our naked eye is present here.
As you can expect, each specifically-titles episode pertains to a certain area. For example, “Volcanoes” shows us what exactly happens in a volcano, the process it goes through, as well as its impact then and now. Each episode, to a rough degree, follow this pattern. Some more than others, others emphasizing the importance of certain areas over others. For example, the episode “Ice” is laced with such commentary, not only touching upon how it may have helped in the evolutionary process, but also how it is affecting us now. At times we’re asked to fill the blanks in ourselves, but, overall, this series essentially lays it out for us to understand and digest, since the majority of the info presented here is not only new, but very interesting. The final episode sort of encapsulates everything, and how, in the end, if we are the only planet with this unique system, then we seriously need to start showing a deeper appreciation for what we have. There may be life out there, but until we discover it, we’re alone in this universe, and this planet, Earth, is the only one like it for all we know. Which, in short, basically means we need to saves this planet, and ourselves, from the inevitable dark road we are currently walking.
Overall, Earth: The Biography is an enthralling and engaging watch, especially for documentary enthusiasts. It hits all the right notes and unloads a heap of information onto us in a compelling and interesting way. Plus, without being completely outright and blatant, it does pose questions about our survival, as a species, for the future. Well, I’ll correct myself there: It’s not completely subtle, but it’s not blatant, either. It’s a logical question for our current times. Still, to get back on topic here somewhat, it’s an interesting look at our world and it’s a perfectly logical and natural extension to Planet Earth and The Blue Planet. Now, it’s not by the same creators, but regardless, it’s just as enthralling and interesting. It’s another great documentary series from the BBC and comes Highly Recommended.
The DVD, released through Warner Home Video, comes in the standard Amaray case with a hinged flap to an additional disc. There are no inserts or slipcovers for this two-disc set. The menus are simple and basic.
The audio and video for this release is a bit of a mixed bag. The audio is as sharp as can be, and crystal clear for this release. Given the nature of the release, there’s no big moments that will stand out for the viewer. There’s no big action sequences or whatever, but the exciting moments in this release, and there are some, do sound great. But, with this release, we get a good audio mix that makes everything sound as perfect as can be. Nothing special, but it does hit all the right notes in being a successful audio transfer, and one that will sound good on your system.
As for the video, well, again, there’s nothing remotely special about it, though it can be soft and grainy at times. But, since this is a regular release for a documentary series, and reference-level video transfer was not expected. Still, don’t let that discourage you in any fashion. Some shots do look absolutely amazing, however, and I suspect the wide variety of different film stock used is the result of this sometimes uneven transfer. Regardless, for the most part, the transfer is really good, just not great.
Sadly, there are no bonus features on this release, but, given the wealth of content in the main feature, none are really needed here. Although, some behind-the-scenes footage is always interesting.
Overall, this is another great entry in BBC’s ongoing documentary releases. The topic is interesting and the execution is enjoyable. True, the DVD itself may be a bit of a mixed bag, but, still, the overall quality can’t be beat. Earth: The Biography easily comes Highly Recommended, and is definitely worth at least a rental, but also a space by your burgeoning documentary release. This title was also released onto Blu-Ray, and should be widely available for purchase, as well. It really is worth checking out. It presents some interesting new information about our planet and just goes to show that there’s much more going on here than we see with our own two eyes. Just fascinating stuff and perfect for any documentary lover.
Earth: The Biography is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.