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The Earth occupies a unique position in the evolution of humanity serving as both womb and grave. "How the Earth Changed History" tells us more about how the unique planet that we live on influenced our development by focusing on five geologic and geographic aspects of our planet that served to strengthen and move our evolutionary progress along. Narrated by Iain Stewart the narrator of "Earth: The Biography" another excellent documentary by the BBC, the show focuses on "Water", "Earth" and "Wind" on the first disc and "Fire" reserving the last section on humanity's impact on its own "The Human Planet". Each section looks into how water for example and the abundance or lack of it influenced the sprawling civilizations that appeared throughout history and how the changing topography of our world also brought down those civilizations just as readily.

"Deep Earth" focuses on how civilizations were drawn to areas where there were fault lines because of the abundance of minerals that could be found. "Wind" pushed us further on the oceans to new destinations that we might otherwise have never discovered and helped create agricultural diversity as well as influencing the dark behavior of humanity as seen with the creation and expansion of slavery.

"Fire" was the first step into allowing us to master our world by forging new, more advanced weapons among other things. "The Human Planet" looks at everything from the chemical destruction of our environment to corporate agriculture and how it has impacted our world and, in turn, threatening us as the world reacts.

A very good, sharp looking Blu-ray shot in high definition video, "How The Earth Was Changed" looks remarkably clean, sharp and vivid with solid black levels throughout and strong, bold colors. Occasional digital artifacts do crop up from time to time but they are minimal.This isn't a perfect transfer but it looks extremely good.

The 5.1 DTS-HD audio mix sounds extremely good but the focus is primarily on the main front and center speakers for the most part.

We get an interview with Iain Stewart who narrates and host the show entitled "Filming in Extremes" and roughly running about 20 minutes. It's presented in SD widescreen.

"How The Earth Changed History" is a marvelous glimpse into how our world not only helped give birth to us but also how it nurtured us and, when we do bad things to it and how it responds in kind to the damage we do to the environment. We live here we should treat our home better because without it, we're history ourselves. 4 1/2 stars.
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on June 30, 2010
Very interesting series on how the earth's natural phenomena (like wind) have resulted in the rise and fall of human settlements and civilizations. Beautiful scenery, thought provoking linkages, and a different way to understand history. Well worth seeing again and again!
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on July 13, 2010
Every child should see this in school. Especially children in poor neighborhoods. Every parent should see it. Every person on the planet should be able to see and know about how the planet works. This presentation is well written, well thought out, and well said and illustrated. It's as good as "Planet Earth" series. It covers at least three subjects that should be taught in our schools at the elementary school level. And it does this in an enjoyable format.
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on July 14, 2010
Geologist and senior lecturer Iain Stewart does a phenomenal job in explaining clearly to a broad audience how much influence climate, geography, and geology have had on the destiny of humanity. Too often, human beings do not acknowledge how much they owe to Planet Earth.

Stewart successively reviews the impact of deep earth, fire, water, and wind on what humanity has accomplished. Stewart also looks at the comprehensive influence that men and women have had on shaping the environment around them. Teachers can use the two-DVD set under review to help make geography and history appealing to their secondary school students.

In summary, the BBC once more shines in combining a gifted educator, fascinating narrative, outstanding camerawork, and appropriate special effects with each other to explain complex phenomena to a broad audience.
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on August 29, 2010
"How the Earth Changed History" takes a thoughtful look at how people have exploited earth's natural forces (wind, water, fire) in the course of building human civilization. Topics include early farming, metallurgy, trade winds, steam power, and global warming.

Geologist Ian Stewart is an adventurous presenter, who walks through fire and climbs and dives into a lot of fascinating and little-known places (Mexico's Naica cave, an underwater forest in Oregon) in the course of the series. I thought the program could have gone into more depth about each topic, but on the positive side, I really enjoyed its combination of adventure, photography, earth science, and history.
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on February 11, 2011
Offers a different perspective of history. We like to think of ourselves as masters of our planet. Truth is, we are, more often than not,subjugated by it, our progress controlled by the whims and fickle nature of the elements and geological forces. If you have interests in geology, meteorolgy, anthropology or history, this is the series for you. I watch a lot of nature/history/science shows and have never seen anything quite like this. Very entertaining as well as informative.
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on August 30, 2011
I teach high school science, and I am constantly looking for videos that have academic value for classes to look at when there are schedule irregularities or for when I am absent. This is a beautifully crafted video, full of information that students will find interesting and presented in a visually fascinating format. I will have students view the film and take notes. They then submit an abstract or review of the film which summarizes the facts that they learned and evaluating the presentation. I look forward to using this in my class.
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on September 16, 2010
Ian is the Man! I have a degree in the sciences and a very good practical background in Geology. I don't know much about the History of Civilization however, so Ian Stewart's new series grabs me and doesn't let go. Even my 5 year old science guy loves the series.

The photography alone is worth buying the package, but the thoughtful and insightful commentary allows most anyone with an interest in either subject to come away with a greater understanding of how we got to modern civilization.

I also liked how Ian handled the final episode. Lately it seems only the smallest percentage of people truly understands the Science Method, so they are getting their "science" information from Politicians. Ian takes ALL the politics out of the equation and lays out a startlingly fresh perspective on where we go from here. I always feel more hopeful after watching.

Fantastic series! I cant wait to see what Ian cooks up next.
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on March 17, 2011
I really enjoyed this series. It's got some amazing pictures, similar to Planet Earth but it's more educational as well. It has geology aspects but it's main strengths are in the explanation of how said geology caused different historical events. I would recommend it for a high school classroom and above.
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on September 26, 2011
Other reviewers have gone into detail on the contents and technical aspects of the series, so I'll add a few thoughts on age-appropriateness and the host.

We're watching this series as part of our earth sciences studies. It's been informative and entertaining for a 9 year-old, a 12 year-old, and two parents watching alongside. We're watching as a supplement to other readings, and a large part of the joy of watching is seeing the earth sciences come together with history and locations we've read about (and some we haven't!). Kudos on the idea to bring history and science together!

We're a family that loves David Attenborough, and we watch lots of Nova, History Channel, and similar videos to supplement our schoolwork. This series fit right in, and the girls have no trouble following the content, Iain's accent, or anything else.

As for the host, Iain Stewart, we're rather on the fence. He's certainly enthusiastic and seems to know his stuff. Think David Attenborough with a different accent and more hipness.

However, he uses the "going to extremes" approach of parasailing (well, something like that) or riding a camel or flying a helicopter, etc. along with some purposely wild camerawork (upside down, at some points) for effect and interest. When Josh Bernstein does the "going to extremes" approach in the Digging for the Truth series, it kinda works. When Iain does it in this series, it rather seems like he's working too hard for the coolness factor. Plus he has a driver, pilot, etc. doing much of the "real work," which again makes it seem like these are stunts simply to grab and hold interest. For our family, the stunts were simply distracting.

Also, speaking of Digging for the Truth, Bernstein shares the microphone, as it were, with experts in various fields, while Iain talks non-stop (again, more like Sir David). He says good stuff and he says it well, don't get me wrong. But it is a full hour at a time of one guy talking.

All in all, we enjoyed this series and learned from it. But we did find ourselves giggling sometimes at the way it was presented, as well as counting the repeated photography. Cool photography and graphics, to be sure, but not cool enough to replay them repeatedly.
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