DVD Review: Yellowstone: Battle for Life

Hi all…

Though I’ve never been to Yellowstone, it’s hard to ignore its beauty, let alone its importance to conservation efforts around the world. Yellowstone was the first National Park established by the U.S. Congress in 1872. It spans an area nearly 3,500 square miles at nearly 8,000 feet above sea level and is crisscrossed with geysers, rivers, forests, and Yellowstone Lake. Home to nearly 60 species of mammals – wolves, lynx, elk, grizzly bears, moose, pronghorn, and many others – Yellowstone attracts nearly 2 million visitors every year.

Yellowstone: Battle for Life should encourage many more visitors to take the journey. Narrated by Peter Firth, this documentary from BBC Earth contains three hour-long episodes that focus on nearly an entire year in the park, as well as some cool extras.

The series starts in “Winter” and introduces viewers to this harsh, frozen world dominated by the Druid Peak wolves and stalwart buffalo herds in the park. The longer the winter goes, the weaker the animals in the park become, making them easier targets for the wolves. And at the end of winter, the bears emerge from hibernation, hungry and eager to find any food hidden under the snow and ice.

One of the amazing scenes in this episode was of a red fox hunting mice. As the mice would move beneath the snow, the fox would listen from above – cautiously and quietly moving close enough for an aerobatic dive to get at its dinner. Simply beautiful.

From Winter we move to “Summer”, which encompasses Spring and the beginning of Summer in Yellowstone. As life returns to the park. Grizzly bear moms and their cubs are on the hunt for shoots, berries, and fish to fill empty bellies. But they are not alone – male bears are also on the prowl and are a danger to her cubs. As the Spring thaw begins, bison move down to pastures soon to become lush and green once more.

And when “Autumn” arrives, Winter isn’t far behind. Male elk begin their battles for supremacy before retreating to warmer valleys to wait again until Spring. However, what really caught me off guard was the footage of the beavers working in the ponds along riverbanks building their dams and storing food for winter.

In addition to the three episodes, there are three extras that tell stories of some of the people who keep Yellowstone going. One about the man who clears snow off the many man-made structures in the park for five months out of the year. One about the folks who watch the geysers erupt in an attempt to both document the events for scientific study, but to also inform park guests about likely eruption times. And the last is about a man who swims in the Yellowstone River and is passionate about making sure the indigenous cutthroat trout of the region win their battle against the lake trout imported for sport fishing in the region.

As always, the BBC has done an amazing job capturing the breathtaking beauty of Yellowstone. Add to that the depth of the information provided through narration and the music by E dward Butt, and you have an engrossing and entertaining documentary. At times, with the amazing flyover footage of the park, I almost felt like I was watching a feature film.

If you are a fan of nature documentaries, especially the latest series of great shows such as Planet Earth, Earth, and Nature’s Most Amazing Events, Yellowstone: Battle for Life should be at the top of your list. Be sure to check it out at your local rental or retail video store.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other great nature documentaries from Amazon below!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

DVD Review: Nature’s Most Amazing Events

Hi all…

Every now and then we get to witness events in nature on the big screen or television that are just astounding. In 2007, Planet Earth from the BBC and the Discovery Channel came to America, narrated by Sigourney Weaver and showed an amazing array of life on our planet in glorious HD quality. Since then, I think the BBC and other documentary filmmakers have been working hard to top themselves.

Though Nature’s Most Amazing Events is an incredible accomplishment, I don’t think it quite matches up to the splendor or Planet Earth. That said, it includes some unbelievable footage shot of some inhospitable and nearly unreachable places all over the globe over a period of years by extremely dedicated people. However, where Planet Earth had little time to focus on a single area and the stories of individual animals, Nature’s Most Amazing Events uses storytelling to create an emotional bond with the audience.

This 2-DVD set includes all six episodes from the series, and appends a “diary” to the end of each. Each diary tells the stories of the filmmakers as they were trying to get to these places and record the footage used for the episode.

Narrated by David Attenborough, his very correct British accent only made it difficult to understand what he was saying in a few places. Notably, each time he said “school” we heard it as “shoal,” which caused a bit of confusion for myself and my family. But once we figured out he was saying “school,” we understood exactly what it was he’d been saying.

In “The Great Melt,” you learn about the impact of global warming on the Arctic ice and the dangers the increased melting poses for the polar bears. However, beyond the polar bears you begin to see the huge circle of life as melting ice sends fresh water into the sea and creates habitats for an incredible array of fish, birds, seals, whales, and more. We were particularly amazed by the shots of the narwhal migration through the ice. Though I’d seen pictures of these mysterious creatures before, actually seeing them wind their way through the canals and cracks opening in the melting ice was beautiful to behold.

“The Great Migration” and “The Great Flood” told stories of the animals of Africa dealing with hostile and often deadly environmental conditions, yet somehow finding ways to survive in the Serengeti and Bostswana’s Okavango Delta. We were blown away by the transformation of the Okavango from cracked and dried sandy plains to a lush, green field and swamp with bountiful fish, grasses, and wildlife.

But I think our favorites were “The Great Salmon Run” and “The Great Tide”. In “The Great Salmon Run” we follow salmon as they migrated back to the place where they were spawned in British Columbia. Along the way there are natural barriers to overcome as well as hungry predators. In “The Great Tide,” billions of sardines draw thousands of predators to the coasts of South Africa for a feeding frenzy beyond belief.

The photography was top notch for all of the episodes and they really do bring you as close to the action as you could possibly be without actually being there yourself. Definitely an amazing accomplishment by a devoted and talented crew of people all around the world.

Beyond the episodes themselves we were captivated when the “diary” for each episode would appear. These filmmakers are not only consummate professionals as far as camera-work goes, but are all adventurous souls who deserve to have their own stories told. In “The Great Salmon Run,” one cameraman swam with Grizzly Bears who were starving and trying to catch the salmon while he took footage of them doing it. Talk about nerves of steel. And in “The Great Tide” we saw an experienced underwater photographer get his flipper nibbled on by a shark. These people deserve our admiration for their courage and dedication to their craft.

If you are a nature lover or are simply captivated by the beautiful documentaries coming out in high definition these days, Nature’s Most Amazing Events should be on your list of DVDs to pick up. Each story is truly beautiful to behold. I can hardly wait to see what the BBC will do next.

–Fitz

p.s. Be sure to pick up Nature’s Most Amazing Events at Amazon below:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

And Now for Something Completely Different…

The Python team  Back row: Graham Chapman, Eri...Image via Wikipedia

Hey all…

In my travels around the Blogosphere, I often come across things I’d like to share. This video combines two things I like to good effect… John Cleese of the Monty Python troupe and laughing. Who doesn’t need a good laugh now and then? And we’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, so why don’t we see some of these laughter groups in the U.S. or Canada? Maybe it’s time to start one!

Thanks go to the Train Yoga site for this one!

–Fitz

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]