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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Ocean Life > Media > 19th Century > Proteus – A Nineteenth Century Vision (2003/First Run Features DVD)

Proteus – A Nineteenth Century Vision (2003/First Run Features DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Documentary: B



Ernst Haeckel may not be a familiar name to many, but he was a very important figure in science and for all intents and purposes, media and the communication of ideas.  David Lebrun’s Proteus – A Nineteenth Century Vision (2003) tells the amazing story of a man so amazed by the idea of what existed beneath the sea that when the first transcontinental line showed proof of life below, Haeckel (a biologist who could draw real well) went wild recording, drawing, categorizing and reflecting on what he had discovered.  It became a landmark in science, the study of life and the way we study everything.


He drew 4,000+ finds and the influence on so many major writers and thinkers is so profound that it is shocking his name could ever be lost to the world at large, but Lebrun reportedly worked for two decades (we believe it) to make this valuable hour-long show possible and makes for excellent viewing.  Lebrun uses the illustrations, narrative, personal history and the growth of the changing world to highlight how remarkable Haeckel’s work was and really is.  All that makes this a must-see.


The letterboxed 1.78 X 1 image is softer than I would have liked it to be, but the footage is so often amazing that one can adjust to an extent, but I wonder if this could look sharper.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is better, but this is most narrative audio with some music and sound effects, so don’t expect much, especially as it is a documentary after all.  Extras include resources on the subject, text bio of Haeckel, Radiolaria Gallery and a making of featurette.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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