Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: Frozen Planet

I picked up Frozen Planet because there was a deal, and someone told me that his kid couldn't stop watching it. As a parent, you never get to watch anything from start to finish, unless it's Blue's Clues, Curious George, or a video of trains, so I was intrigued by the idea that I could actually watch a BBC Nature Program with Bowen.

I'd love to say that Bowen watched all the episodes from start to finish with fascination, but the reality was, he fixated quickly on polar nears, and only wanted to watch the parts about Polar Bears. There's several very cute sequences where the mommy polar bear is leading her two cubs to the frozen ice, and Bowen asked, "Where's daddy polar bear?"

Series like Frozen Planet or Planet Earth frequently get mentioned as "nature porn." This utterly demeans the people who work on these shows, because not only are these shows much much harder to shoot than porn and require a much tougher budget, but the education value and the entertainment value is much denser. As a nature photographer, I'm far more appreciative of the effort it takes to capture the footage found in these shows than most people, and on top of that, video is an order of magnitude harder to capture and edit than even photographs.

What I love about the series is that while it covers all the usual photogenic species like Killer Whales, Polar Bears, Seals, and Penguins, it also doesn't neglect the less photogenic species like the 14 year Wolly bear moths. Many of the capture is done using time lapse photography and looks beautiful. The series also doesn't shy away from predator violence, though the cuts do frequently come after the prey is taken down and before the dining. It certainly wasn't overtly distressful to my toddler to watch those.

The last two episodes of the show cover people's lifestyles on the poles of the planet, as well as the impact humanity is having on the frigid landscape. Unfortunately, the BBC succumbs to their national origins and strongly depicts the British expeditions to the South Pole while sidelining Amundsen's and Nansen's much more successful bids.

Nevertheless, for sheer breath-taking beauty and amazing footage (the footage of baby cubs in a den with the mother blew me away), this is definitely a series to buy and watch in Blu-Ray 1080p video. Do not compromise on video quality. This is what you bought a high definition set for, and there's no reason to settle for less.

Highly recommended.

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