on March 11, 2011
A few BBC wildlife programs are average but the majority are good, very good or exceptionally good. In my opinion "Madagascar" is in the highest category. The series was eighteen months in the making with some difficult and dangerous moments for the cameramen, including a platform high in the trees to film red ruffed lemurs, and the hair-raising nocturnal filming of fossas in the final show. The programs cover both the beautiful and the bizarre, including shell squatting spiders, pygmy chameleons little bigger than ants, Labord's chameleon that lives for only 12 weeks, fish that swim upside-down, giraffe-necked weevils, and lemurs that eat bamboo containing levels of cyanide that would be lethal for other animals. A big plus is that in addition to the fauna and flora we have stunning aerial photography of the varied and spectacular landscapes of the island - mountains, rainforests, rivers, coasts and arid areas.
David Attenborough (as good as ever) provides the narrative, explaining how plants and animals adapted to the environment during the 60 million years the island was cut off from the rest of the world. As for the music, all too often BBC programmes are spoiled for me by excessively loud and inappropriate music. In this case the music, much of it composed specially for the series, actually adds value to it. If I was allowed to keep only one wildlife series I think "Madagascar" might be it even though it does not feature my favourite animals - the big cats.
However, along with the beauty there is a sombre tone. We see the scattered remains of the elephant bird that began to disappear when man arrived. David Attenborough tells us that the unique radiated tortoises are likely to be extinct within twenty years, that only ten female fossas survive in the southern forest, and only 200 ghost-like silky safakas remain. He finishes all three programs with a warning about impending extinctions. How sad it would be if our great-grandchildren were one day to watch this wonderful series to see not living animals but a record of those that have vanished from the earth.
on June 13, 2011
This is a 3 part series, of course there are Lemurs and Chameleons, the most prolific of Madagascar's fauns.
But there is also interesting birds, insects, a tortoise, and a curious blind fish that swims upside down!
Filmed is stark reality blu-ray and narrated off camera by David Attenborough (he does appear briefly at the very beginning and end) it is a great addition to any nature/bbc collection.
The extras are also worth watching, interesting is The Giant Egg, which chronicles Attenboroughs now 50 year old excursion to the island with vintage film clips and newer ones too.
on July 13, 2011
Judge Russell Engebretson, DVD Verdict -- "This BBC-produced wildlife documentary, narrated by David Attenborough, was filmed over a period of eighteen months. Spanning only three one-hour episodes, Madagascar is far more modest than the epic Earth series, but still delights. Two episodes, "Island of Marvels" and "Lost Worlds" are on Disc One. Disc Two includes the third episode, "Land of Heat and Dust," and a pair of extra features -- "Attenborough and the Giant Egg," in HD, and "Lemurs of Madagascar," in standard definition. Each episode explores a different area of Madagascar. Lemurs are the stars of the show, found all over the island--from the desiccated south to the tropical coasts, and the mountains between. In one area, golden bamboo lemurs subsist on a diet of cyanide-laced bamboo leaves; other lemurs cross razor-like mountaintops to reach precious pools of water; while another species deftly navigates through a forest of thorn-covered trees. Although a fertile area for wildlife photography, Madagascar is evidently a tough environment in which to film. Ten-minute clips at the end of each episode document the camera crew's difficulty in capturing images of these elusive animals without frightening them away, and the horrendous days-long rainfalls that brought production to a halt until the weather cleared. After seeing the conditions they faced, my respect for the camera crew's tenacity ratcheted up several notches. The 1.78:1 1080i image is good with a few notable exceptions. Many of the wide aerial shots of forests and mountains are blurred in the foreground, and some other shots--especially of rushing streams and rivers surrounded by forest--are soft and much less detailed than they should have been, appearing closer to DVD quality, almost as though they had been lifted from a standard-definition video. In spite of what I've read elsewhere, I did not see any evidence of obvious banding, or any majorly noticeable artifacts beyond the softness I mentioned. This is not a reference-quality video, but it easily outshines a DVD. My biggest disappointment is with the audio. Why Dolby Digital stereo? There is plenty of room on a 50GB Blu-ray disc for an LPCM or DTS-HD MA audio track--in stereo and surround. Though, I'll admit, the sound is very good for Dolby."
on October 31, 2011
Sir David Attenborough's nature presentations are simply the gold standard of the genre. He himself is a treasure as are the creatures he profiles. This DVD set takes us to the magical island of Madagascar. We see a panoply of curious sights and sounds including several species of Lemur. These critters are guaranteed to melt even the hardest of hearts with their beautiful faces and mischievious chicanery. Also present are a great variety of chameleon - a smallish member of the lizard family, I believe, who are also quite winsome but in a different way.
In several spots I found myself wishing for less musical accompaniment. The music, as it is, is suitable in style but I prefer to hear the natural "music" of the surroundings: the crunch of leaves under a lizard's foot, the wind in the trees, the rain, the animal calls ...& so forth. These are still present with the music overlaid, but I prefer only the natural sounds alone.
Aside from this, I have no complaints and can give this set my highest recommendation.
on January 14, 2014
I bought this 2 disk set in anticipation of a trip to Madagascar. I loved the videos, the narration, everything. It prepared me well for my trip (27 days travelling all over the island) and since I have returned, I love watching it to remember all the terrific and unique creatures that call this island home. Yes, there are a lot of lemurs in this program, but this is the only place in the world where lemurs live. To see them in real life, up close and personal as I did, was amazing. To see the blind, upside down cave fish was unique. The landscape fascinating. These videos covered all possible animals and adventures that one might see in this remarkable land and I loved them and will watch over and over and over.
on December 14, 2011
My wife and I really enjoyed this DVD, "Madagascar". It has a lot of interesting wildlife (especially lots of lemurs), and many of the landscapes are spectacular. It's also a good video for families, especially if you are tired of seeing another zebra getting taken down by a crocodile and that sort of thing. Although there are a couple predators in this video, the stars of the show tend to be cute and cuddly, or at least harmless. We really liked it a lot. And the narrator is very easy to listen to.
on January 9, 2015
Wow, this is beautiful! This is so relaxing, enjoyable, and educational. I can't believe how this footage comes to be because the video is just unbelievably clear. It's better than watching in real life. This video attracts my whole family, and I love the quality time it creates for us. I also love that it's a nature show with almost no violence. I always cringe watching lions take down little deer, and there's none of that that I recall in this video. Hours of brilliance!
on January 15, 2013
This is another very entertaining dvd just as I expected. Attenborough always adds interest and quality and the photography is great. I am glad to own it. However, I was a little disappointed that there wasnt a little more to this expensive dvd. It is about 95% about lemurs and little else. From the length of this production there is disappointment that the content couldnt have been a little more diverse. Are we to conclude that there is nothing of interest in Madagascar than its geography and its lemurs?
on June 16, 2013
I agree with the other 5 star reviewers, how can you go wrong? Filmed in high definition, many hours of preparation, patience and luck brings in the jackpot. Great drama and beauty from a unique place on earth, hosted by, one of the most qualified narrators to bring us these types of nature programs. Presenting the immense beauty of our planet, with a realistic look at what we humans are doing to our planet to destroy the diversity of the planet, while showing the good, that some are undertaking to protect it. Both educational and entertaining, this is the most valuable use of Blu-Ray that I can imagine.
on November 2, 2013
What an extraordinary film. BBC/Earth has done it again by showcasing this Lost World, a biological hotspot: Madagascar. Millions of years ago the island split off from Africa and India and since that time has been evolving on own, for the most part, isolated from the world. The result of all this isolation is a land of incredible biodiversity with plants and animals that are unique to Madagascar. Basically the island is divided roughly Into two distinct regions by a rugged mountain range running, more or less, north to south. The land east of these mountains is predominantly rain forest and to the west, in the rain-shadow, the land is dry for most of the year but, on each side, there are variations of climate. The footage of these mountains is stunning, with vistas of sheer cliffs and eroded mesas. With all this variation in habitat the variety of plant and animal life is something to behold. And, guided by host David Attenborough, behold it you will in this fine nature film. Madagascar's "flagship mammal" is, of course, the lemur: at just over 100 species this primate is predominate over most of the island and every species is threatened or endangered. Additionally, each species is unique to a particular habitat, region and behavior. Some are able to eat plants that are filled with toxic chemicals,like Cyanide. Others have found a way to eat tiny leaves that are protected by needle like spines. One species of lemur lives on the razor sharp ramparts of a fossil reef's eroded cliffs, another makes their home in the reed beds of just one lake and live their whole lives over water. So, is there a lot lemur footage? Yes, but why this is a problem with some reviewers is beyond me. Besides lemurs the series boasts extended sequences of many other animals; a family of Striped Tenrecs, many kinds of chameleons and frogs, numerous kinds of birds and of course the insects. Memorable scenes of a Dwarf Chameleon in the same frame as a black ant and the ant is not much smaller than the reptile. The list goes on, but you get the idea. This series is well up to BBC's standard and Attenborough's narration is right-on. Look for all kinds of unique trees and palms that often form the base of the food chain. One mammal deserves special mention: the Fossa, a cat-like predator that prays on lemurs and may be related to the Civet. This elusive carnivore created it's own filming problem but what little footage they got was well worth it. Along with the series, this two disk set includes some special features on filming issues and other aspects of Madagascar life, both past and present. All in all, this series is assured an honored place in my nature film collection and I hope in yours too.