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Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life (2009)

David Attenborough  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Price: $31.21 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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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 (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002MIK0UI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,442 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An understanding of our family tree 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
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
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
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
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent! Superb! David Attenborough at his best!
Published 1 month ago by mercedes van santen
5.0 out of 5 stars Darwin was Proven Correct in every aspect via the Discovery of the DNA...
Fair coverage of Darwin's life, but it left out the falsehoods that most Medieval Church critics said--i.e. that he was an atheist! Read more
Published 2 months ago by S. Simcha Lund ben Abraham MS
5.0 out of 5 stars Attaboy, Attenborough
He never pulls any punches but is excruciatingly lucid as well as unarguably logical and accurate. I wish all of his works were available in Blu-ray. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sandra Kramer
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done
David Attenborough is always easy on the ears and always keeps one's attention with his delivery. Information on Darwin is very good.
Published 6 months ago by Lucille Lietzau
1.0 out of 5 stars David Attenborough's Presentation of Darwin Questionable
Though the film provides stunning cinematography of the natural world, yet its shoddy presentation of science and its historical revisionism prompts me to give it only one... Read more
Published 8 months ago by G. M. Casey
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
I would, admittedly, pay good money to hear Attenborough read a phone book. The man's an icon of nature documentaries. Read more
Published 8 months ago by craigr1971
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution Theory Vs Religion
My background is chemical eng. I like reading the cradle of civilisation, astronomy, physics, archaeology, palaeontology, biology, anthropology, electronics. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jonatan Sutrisna
5.0 out of 5 stars There is Religion and then there is one Brilliant man named Charles...
David Attenborough nails this thing down. Anyone who has trouble understanding Darwin and thinks that the world and all of its incredible wonders came into existance because of a... Read more
Published 14 months ago by J. COPELAND
4.0 out of 5 stars Thankyou
Great thankyou for the dvd very happy you really shouldnt make people write more than they feel like very off putting
Published 20 months ago by mark
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for children 8yrs and older.
Belief in the supernatural will be history when we educate our children about the scientific discoveries supporting evolution of life and our place in the universe.
Published on August 20, 2012 by Jimbo the Bimbo
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