Customer Review

214 of 224 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest things ever created in the history of film, February 23, 2013
This review is from: Africa: Eye To Eye With the Unknown [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The title for this review seems a bit much, but let me quickly explain why it's not hyperbole or meaningless oversell. I help at my friends video store, which hosts a giant collection of Blu-ray features. I own many, but I should specify the only Blu-Rays I purchase, mostly due to replay-ability, are nature documentaries. My modest collection boasts over 75 Blu-ray nature documentaries: BBC, Nat-Geo, Discovery and other independent sources. I've been collecting nature Blu-rays since the evening I installed a compatible drive in my computer. The PC is linked via 1080p HDMI connection to a large LCD screen. The reason I'm telling you this personal information is so you know I'm serious about the genre. I'm critical. It takes a lot to blow me away since I've viewed so many astonishing, eye-popping nature documentaries over the years. Other people collect guns, stamps or shoes. Well, I collect nature documentaries.

This is, without question, the best nature documentary ever made.

It's better than Life.

It's better than Planet Earth.

It's the reason why you should own a Blu-ray player and a high definition television.

I pre-ordered this series several months ago. Then, like a child waiting for his package to arrive, I eagerly paced my friends store for the delivery to be made yesterday. I'm an avid follower of anything David Attenborough produces -- a God for us nature doc enthusiasts. If you want to hear the highest degree of natural obsession, but described in as fascinating a way as listening to Indiana Jones tell tales of adventure, listen to Attenborough discuss filming on the extra interview footage, Disk 2. He'll give you a sense of where the genre as a whole has evolved from and how modern technology innovated how we study nature. But the reason why this is so great isn't because Attenborough carries it. It's attributed to the iconic and innovative panoramic and close-up cinematography, the high resolution night-filming, spectacular ecological sequencing, detailed studies and harrowing biological dramas.

The series breaks-down six African regions: the Kalahari, Savannah, Congo, Cape, Sahara and a looking-ahead episode called the Future. Among the intense biological attention, the crew follows most of the unique, rare and well-adapted African creatures, harvesting big questions and stirring the viewer into comprehending the vastness and the unfathomable diversity which exists on the mysterious continent. One of the many incredible scenes in the first episode shows the worlds largest underground lake, beneath the unforgiving Kalahari desert. Attenborough describes how this lake contains a prehistoric fish species that exists nowhere else on the planet and how it survives in such ironic form. Another gem is the EXTRAORDINARY oasis scene, where a breathtaking array of beasts and fowl drink side-by-side at a life-saving watering hole. It's one of the most overwhelming scenes ever captured, I'm not kidding. A Garden of Eden, a bounty of lions, giraffes, ostriches, rhinos, and many other stoic animals all existing for the moment as a unified body.

The series showcases the high, mountainous and remote "islands" where creatures like gorillas and other primates live. Detailing how family dramas are tied to the treacherous struggles of survival in the rain forest. You bare witness to the unique personalities and familial bonds, capturing intimate and rare once in a lifetime moments on camera. You see when the normally introverted and temperamental rhinos come out at night, greet one another and foster relationships with friends. Yes, with friends. You hear how they communicate and witness the body language they present for each other, making it easy, as easy as sympathizing with another human, to understand what the rhinos are thinking. These moments echo throughout the series within various species. It results in casting the beautifully special creatures with a sense of importance and individuality on the planet -- as equal as, and I say this with controversial trepidation, human populations struggle with the same belonging.

I never knew why giraffes had those two tiny horns on their heads before this series, which shows you why in glorious detail as the scene unfolds a cliffhanger moment into an uproarious Cinderella story. There are a few nail-biting, horrifying moments where in the last moment an event turns to favor the underdog, you never see it coming as you prepare to flinch and then you burst into tears and clap like a maniac.

Iconic sweeping panoramic landscapes fill the transitions between the micro-dramas. The vivid wildernesses offer glorious, endless wow-factor. You'll find yourself rewinding and re-watching scenes to maintain the tingly frisson, again and again. Earth-porn at its finest.

As usual, the BBC Concert Orchestra extends and resonates the visual majesty with a spectacularly swelling score. The finest timing represented when the camera slowly creeps over a gaping precipice and the symphony builds into a shivering crescendo.

There are hilarious moments too, like the squirrel dropping its dinner with the kind of attitude and personality you expect from your best friend, he's registering he's been spotted by a leopard, and is about to bolt to his haven. The odd and personality-brimming giraffes are also sources of comic relief throughout Africa--they've quickly risen to be one of my favorite creatures on the planet, all thanks to this series.

It is completely worthy of your time. It has the capacity to change your feelings to favor preservation and natural conservation in all its forms without brow-beating you with guilt trips or "humans are always a problem" shaming. Instead the series tactfully, and rightfully, admires nature and shows you why we should preserve these creatures, habitats and regions. And in that respect, showing is far more influential than telling.

Appropriate for all members of your family and offers a paramount-entrance into the revealing and worthwhile nature-doc collection. It's something every human on the planet should be required to see. This is why you bought your Blu-ray player. And if you do not own a Blu-Ray player, this is the reason you've been searching for to take the plunge.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 27, 2013 11:54:47 AM PST
K. Moers says:
On TV the series ended with a "Making of" 1hr show that showed all the cameramen had to go through to make this series. is this part of the DVD and if not, how do I buy that? hank you, Kari

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2013 12:29:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2013 12:33:25 PM PST
Absolutely, the behind-the-scenes "making of" are on the Blu-Ray, they follow each segment, individually. There's also a special behind the scenes sequence, the hour long episode on the second disk that I haven't watched just yet. I principally focused on watching the episodes for the first run through. Definitely will be watching that Making of episode this week. But yes, the making of sequences follow each episode, and then there's a longer making of episode on the second disk.

Posted on Feb 28, 2013 3:31:40 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Mar 3, 2013 2:16:34 AM PST
James Ward says:
I'm perplexed. I don't know which is better, the actual films or your review of them. Hands down, one of the best written reviews I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Beautiful work.

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 9:41:03 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 5, 2013 8:51:23 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2013 8:22:21 PM PST
Mathew J says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2013 3:49:36 PM PST
Gale Casto says:
Yes it is part of the DVD set. I just bought it. (not the Blu-Ray) So I can only speak for the regular DVD. After each segment, for Example, The Sahara, there is a short piece called Eye to Eye and it shows all the physical and emotional things the film crew endured. I think it was so great to do it this way instead of all in an hour. Each segment has an Eye to Eye.

Posted on Sep 13, 2013 7:20:45 AM PDT
Does the blu ray version contain the part where Sir David feeds a baby rhino? I did'nt find it in the streaming videos on amazon prime.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2013 7:50:55 AM PDT
I believe the scene you're talking about is on the final episode of Africa, The Future, toward the end of the final segment. I'll double-check this when I get home.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 24, 2013 7:55:53 PM PDT
Hi Chris,

Africa is my first blu ray nature documentary and I chose it based on your review. So far so good. I haven't finished viewing it, but I'm already looking into getting another blu ray nature documentary. Since you''ve seen a lot of them, what would you recommend me get next? I'm deciding between Planet Earth, Life, and Frozen Planet.

Thanks in advance.
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