Release Date(s)2006 (March 13, 2007)
Studio(s)BBC/NHK/Discovery Channel (BBC/Warner Bros.)
- Film/Program Grade: A+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: N/A
Planet Earth is everything you’ve heard and much more. The BBC’s eleven episode television series, drawing on over five years of round-the-world photography commissioned from many of the world’s top nature photographers, documents the natural world of our planet with stunning detail and footage of rare natural events never before captured on camera. Some of the camera work actually staggers the imagination with thoughts of “How did they manage to film that?” arising in every episode. The episodes each focus on a different aspect – From Pole to Pole, Mountains, Fresh Water, Caves, Deserts, Ice Worlds, Great Plains, Jungles, Shallow Seas, Seasonal Forests, and Ocean Deep. I personally enjoyed the From Pole to Pole, Mountains, Caves, Deserts, Shallow Seas, and Seasonal Forests episodes most, but there is a wealth of information and marvelous photography in all, so that everyone’s special interests are well served. The series is given a low-key narration by David Attenborough that provides gravitas but never intrudes on the power of the images on screen. The material is completely addictive, so don’t be surprised to find yourself watching multiple episodes at a sitting or even (gulp!) the entire nine hours worth at once.
The BD visual presentation is superb across the four discs that make up the set – definitely demonstration-level material. Visual pop is the norm with image detail as good as it gets and colour fidelity truly excellent. Whether showing vast vistas, or the detail of some small insect life; whether in bright sunlight or the darkness of deep caves – the BD presentation handles all with aplomb. Less impressive is the sonic experience. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround is at best adequate in absolute terms although it’s above average in relative terms for documentary filming. The surround component is mainly low-key for the most part with emphasis across the front. David Attenborough’s narration is clear and precise except for a few passages that tend to get overpowered by the music. The latter by the way does not perhaps provide quite the majestic themes one might like, but it is effective.
Unfortunately, there is no bonus material included. The DVD version of this set contained some behind-the-scenes footage for each episode and an impressive three-part documentary Planet Earth: The Future, but none of that material has made it to the BD version (nor I gather the HD one) for some inexplicable reason. Why high definition enthusiasts don’t rate an extra disc like the DVD package is unacceptable. Despite this omission, however, the basic content of the set is such that it is still highly recommended.
- Barrie Maxwell