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Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life


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Product Details

  • Actors: David Attenborough
  • Writers: David Attenborough
  • Producers: Brian Leith, Catherine McCarthy, Sacha Mirzoeff, Sharmila Choudhury
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 59 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002MIK0UI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,645 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life" on IMDb

Special Features

Darwin's Struggle: The Evolution of the Origin of Species

Editorial Reviews

A personal insight, from the world's favourite naturalist, into Darwin's theory of evolution, exploring why it is more important now than ever before. Beautifully shot, this is the start of a series of celebrations of the man behind the theory that changed the world's thinking. But more than that, this is a labor of love for a man who has been at the forefront of natural history programming or decades.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
In conclusion, this documentary explains and shows quite well Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.
Stephen Pletko
They are very well produced and have an updated polished look to them that I have not yet seen matched by any of the other documentary videos out there.
The Online Cowboy
Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life is an outstanding celebration of the life and ideas of one of the greatest scientists yet to live.
Paul Daniel Picard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By The Online Cowboy on November 21, 2009
Format: DVD
I thought the BBC Earth series of Charles Darwin was absolutely wonderful. They are very well produced and have an updated polished look to them that I have not yet seen matched by any of the other documentary videos out there. As far as the content, it packs a wallop within the the 60 minute feature of Charles Darwin's quest for understanding our place and how we all got this far in the tree of life. David Attenborough does a great job of pointing out the facts with a humbling and un-patronizing way to the viewer that makes it all so easy to understand AND make sense. I think this would make for great viewing in a high school science class.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Greg VINE VOICE on November 16, 2009
Format: DVD
David Attenborough has been doing wonderful, highly creditable nature shows for decades, and this low-key and soft-spoken paen to the insight of Charles Darwin fits perfectly within that tradition. As a mature and sophisticated spokesperson for nature's wonders and science's ability to penetrate the outer layers of that wonder, there are few better tour guides to the revolution that Darwin brings to our understanding of the living world. Illustrated with wonderful clips from previous nature documentaries and well-written narration from key locations--including Darwin's home in Down), this is a fitting tribute to Darwin during this, his year (200th birthday and 150th anniversary of publication of "Origin of Species"). To make matters better, the DVD includes an added feature, "The Evolution of Evolution," which is a slightly splashier take on Darwin's achievement and includes fascinating insights from Darwin experts. Very erudite commentary, made with that BBC flare for intelligence and understatement that we "Sesame Street" generation Americans often grow to so admire.
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67 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Paul Daniel Picard on December 30, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life is an outstanding celebration of the life and ideas of one of the greatest scientists yet to live. This nearly one-hour film includes a close look at the importance of both descent with modification and the common ancestry of all life. Wonderful glimpses at Darwin's original specimens and notes, important fossils, and DNA evidence are also high-lighted. These are all connected nicely into an easy to follow description of the primary mechanism of evolution, natural selection.
Weaved seamlessly throughout is natural history film footage shown of David Attenborough's many earlier television series. By using this footage, the film apply demonstrates the diversity of life and celebrates the work of perhaps the greatest natural history television series writer, director, and producer (Planet Earth, Life on Earth, and many other series).
I have used this film successfully with my high school biology classes. It provides a clear, direct, and articulate look at a 21st century, evidence based understanding of evolution and the foundational role that Darwin's work has played. This film is indeed a fitting tribute to Darwin on the 200th anniversary of his birth.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Riley on May 29, 2010
Format: DVD
Great Compact Overview of Evolution & Abundance of Living Things on Earth

This BBC documentary, not surprisingly, is very well done. In the 60 minutes, it gives a thorough overview of the natural selection that produced all the things we see around us in the world.

My only critique is that is TOO general of an overview, and as other customers reviews stated, it would be great for a high school biology class (in fact, it would be odd NOT to use this if you're a biology teacher higher than 6th grade).

One of the many good things from this DVD: Nothing against Sigourney Weaver or Oprah Winfrey (who narrated the U.S. versions of "Planet Earth" and "Life" - respectively, but David Attenborough is much more enjoyable simply because of the knowledge with which he speaks on the various topics on his programs (I am American by the way). The U.S. versions I believe showed the exact same footage but were Americanized with the narration of two voices many more Americans are familiar with. Both versions are available on Amazon but the links for the David Attenborough/original BBC versions are here:

Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series
Life (narrated by David Attenborough)

Another surprise on this Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life DVD: the 'special features' section is almost as long as the feature itself on the DVD. It tells the detailed story of Darwin's angst against publishing "On the Origin of Species" because of his wife's devout religious beliefs, as well as upsetting the traditional Genesis beliefs of creation prevalent at the time in 1859.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko on January 22, 2010
Format: DVD
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"Our Earth is the only known planet that sustains life. And it does so in abundance. I have been fortunate enough over the years to travel to some of the most extraordinary and remote places on Earth to find and film animals...The sheer number and variety of animals and plants is astonishing. Estimates of the number of different species vary from six million to a hundred million...

There are often a multitude of variations on a single pattern. Nearly 200 different kinds of monkeys for example. And 315 humming birds, nearly a thousand bats. And beetles, at least 350 thousand species of them. Not to mention nearly a quarter of a million different kinds of flowering plants. The variety is astounding...

Why should there be such a dazzling variety? And how can we make sense of such a huge range of living organisms?

Two hundred years ago, a man was born who was to explain this astonishing diversity of life. In doing so he revolutionized the way in which we see the world and our place in it. His name was Charles Darwin."

The above comes from the introduction to this astonishing documentary hosted by broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough (born: 1926). This documentary was made to celebrate the 200TH anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth (in 1809) and the 150TH anniversary of his scientific masterpiece "On the Origin of Species" (first edition published in 1859 with a longer title).

This documentary has it all and explains as well as shows all basic aspects of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.
Read more ›
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