Blue Planet: Seas Of Life (2001/BBC Earth Blu-ray)/Magic Journey To Africa (2010/Image Blu-ray 3D)/Nanook Of The North/The Wedding Of Palo
(1922/1934/Flicker Alley Blu-ray Set)/One
Life (2011/BBC Earth Blu-ray w/DVD)/Planet
Ocean (2012/Universal Blu-ray)/Wings
Of Life (2011/DisneyNature Blu-ray w/DVD)
Picture: B 2D Picture: Blu-rays: B-/DVDs:
C+ Sound: B-/B-/C+/B-/B-/B- & C+ Extras: B-/C+/B/B-/C+/C- Main Programs: B/C+/B-/B-/B-/B-
theaters and on HDTV at the same time, we have a cycle of pro-environmental
documentaries and all the major studios and networks want to have their titles
out there being seen by the public. The
critical and commercial success has been smooth and growing, though audience
interest in such releases are nothing new as the following set of Blu-ray
releases will attest…
Blue Planet: Seas Of Life (2001) is here over 3 Blu-rays
making it the longest entry on the list and as strong as any entry as
well. Made by the BBC with the producers
of the massively successful Planet Earth
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) before that series was releases, this is a
fine companion piece with 8 episodes on the first two discs, extended extras on
the third and David Attenborough narrates.
lost in the shuffle of the insanity of 9/11 plus the fact that the cycle had
not yet picked up, this is a very solid presentation, but you had better be
awake and prepared to really take in the subject matter because this is as
throughout as any of the mini-series in this genre to date. Fortunately, it holds up very well and if you
have never seen it or not seen it for a long time, this is your opportunity,
plus many never saw it in HD or HD this good, so Blu-ray is definitely the way
to go on this release.
80 minutes of Behind The Scenes
footage, five bonus featurettes and an interview segment with Producer Alastair
Fothergill, Cameraman Doug Allan and Researcher Penny Allen.
child-geared narrative release is Magic
Journey To Africa (2010) which is actually in 3D, though Image
Entertainment is not boasting of that fact on this Blu-ray release or
celebrating that it is a 35mm film production (only dubbing it above the title
as “originally presented in GIANT SCREEN theaters” as if it were IMAX or
IMAX-like), but this is a short at 49 minutes fantasy presentation that is not
that good, but has some nice shots and nice 3D, so it is worth a look,
especially if you have a Blu-ray 3D player.
put, a young lady finds a fantasy-empowered way to visit the continent of the
title via magic means, makes friends and sees lots of great animals. It is child-safe and quits while it is ahead,
but I felt it could have delivered much more as the equally short IMAX
productions (3D or not) have in the past, but it is a unique production worth a
look and deserves this Blu-ray 3D release.
Trailers and a Making Of documentary.
course, films about nature and people have been around since the dawn of film
since they made only shorts, including narratives and faking natural
situations. In 1922, Robert Flaherty’s Nanook Of The North took world cinema
by storm, shocking everyone with its appeal, the personality of its real-life
main protagonist and making more money than any other such film, of the silent
of the scenes were staged, but audiences loved this film that took them where
they had never been before, impressed by all the hard work and building a
living, world & survival from scratch and the film remains an all-time
classic. This version is the complete
restoration from 1972 and now plays like a forerunner of all the current nature
films, showing the beauty of the arctic in beautiful black and white of the
time n a way no film or HD of any kind could show now.
concerns were not as bad at the time, though even then, nature was being
valued, though it could also be argued the film is endorsing the idea the “man”
could and should use nature any way he sees fit. However, Nanook and company are not a giant
multi-national corporation with massive machines to strip the land around them,
so the argument is limited. Long before
Michael Moore’s political documentary successes, Nanook proved there was a genre or two here that could make money
and be critically praised. It is worth
revisiting and a must-0see if you like the releases on this list.
(as usual), Flicker Alley has not only added some great extras (more on that in
a moment), but a second film in Dr. Knud Rasmussen’s The Wedding Of Palo (1934) made in the Nanook mode and not as known
or seen, yet it is as fun, clever and gives us yet another priceless portrait
of nature unseen for decades or more.
Possibly its inspiration for Nazi filmmaking Leni Riefenstahl is a
reason it is not more discussed, but Anthropologist Rasmussen made a film that
continued what Flaherty had started, commented on animal extinction, brought in
more people into the camera’s eye and the result is an underrated, influential
work with its own things to additionally say.
Glad it was included n this set!
include a 32-page illustrated booklet on the films including informative texts,
while the Blu-ray adds six bonus films: Claude Massot’s Nanook Revisited (Saumialuk) (1988 French TV production (64
minutes) in regular definition), Houses Of The Arctic/Dwelling Of The Far
North – a reedit of the igloo-building sequence ion the film as an
educational short, Arctic Hunt (1913,
15 minutes) and long excerpts of Primitive
Love (1927) by explorer Frank. E. Kleinschmidt, Louis De Rochemont’s Eskimo Hunters Of Northwest Alaska
(1949, 20 minutes) taking place in Nanook territory and Face Of The High Arctic (1959, Canada, 14 minutes) about the region
at that point. Time for a new revisit!
One Life (2011) is another BBC Earth
release, but at 85 minutes, is more of a telefilm than anything else, but they
did get Daniel Craig to narrate and he is a plus in this look at all kinds of
species worldwide in what is a 3,000-day shoot!
The material is diverse enough, making us wonder where the extra footage
is. Either way, it is a fine work worth
your time and great for those who might not have the time for a longer-form
include UltraViolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes compatible devices, a Making Of featurette, On Camera
Interviews, Director’s feature length audio commentary track, a Behind The Scenes featurette and Blu-ray
exclusive Mike Gunton on One Life
Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot’s Planet
Ocean (2012) was co-sponsored by Omega Watches and issued by Universal Pictures
and is another pleasant surprise not only reiterating the beauty and need for
the preservation of the oceans of the world though words (narrated well by
actor Josh Duhamel) and images including some color images (including nighttime
footage) that has some of the most unique and impressive color I have seen from
any HD production to date.
the 93 minutes-long program manages to find a new way to look at said oceans
(Tara Expeditions might be a factor) and the result is another priceless volume
on the subject that is more than a match for Blue Planet above and adds to the visual proof of how diverse,
necessary and priceless the oceans and planet is.
result has a look and feel like no previous release on the subject has had and
I did not expect that, but more of the same.
We get otherwise and I only wish it were longer.
include a Making Of featurette and two more featurettes: Underwater and Shanghai.
Schwartzberg’s Wings Of Life (2011) is
narrated by Meryl Streep, usually voicing the plants or other life shown
throughout this very impressive 80 minutes that shows everything that flies
(birds and bugs) plus nature, how the ecosystem works and even something too
rare in this cycle, carnivorous plants.
Streep is obviously having fun here and also adds dimension to an
already compelling documentary that is now among my favorites from the
DisneyNature line. You will be impressed
by the visuals and editing as well.
extras is a preview for the next DisneyNature release (Bears!) and a collage of the hits previously released in theaters
and on home video, all elsewhere on this site.
X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition
image on Africa was shot on 35mm
film with dual cameras and on Kodak Vision 2 film negative stocks that offer
some nice 3-D moments you might not always see on pure 3D HD presentations and
this works better than its 2D 1080p version, though both have problematic
digital visual effects that look dated and can be ineffective.
2D 1.78 X 1 digital color High Definition image transfers on the rest of the
new productions have their mixes of nice shots, some problematic shots and a
few demo shots. I liked some of the
unique color shots Planet Ocean
unexpectedly delivered, but all the discs had their moments, though being HD
shoots did not offer the nature images IMAX 70mm or standard 70mm might
deliver. Still, they all look pretty
good and nature fans will enjoy them.
1.19, 1.33 and 1.37 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image on Nanook and Palo are going to show the age of the prints, but considering they
are an early silent film that was a massive hit and an early sound film shot
under equally extraordinary circumstances, Flicker Alley has delivered amazing
results and the films have never looked sop good. In addition, even the supplementary film
shorts look good.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Life
and Wings are softer than the HD
versions and not as engaging.
new productions Blu-ray have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes and
they are decent, though none really offer a solid soundfield throughout and can
lack all out activity in parts. All are
well recorded as well, though Life
has problems with Daniel Craig’s narration sounding a bit too low, too
compressed and too much in the center channel.
has sound effect choices that do not always work.
Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVDs of Life
and Wings are weaker than their
DTS/Blu-ray counterparts and in the case of Life, Craig’s narration is more problematic. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Nanook and Palo are well-recorded instrumental tracks that offer healthy Pro
Logic-type surrounds with no major issues and manage to outperform the DVDs
enough to rate well with the Blu-rays.
- Nicholas Sheffo