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Human Planet [Blu-ray]
Format: Blu-ray|Change
Price:$36.86+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on December 12, 2014
This review will probably show up for all versions of Human Planet, which I think stinks. (Come on Amazon, STOP DOING THAT.)
I'm reviewing the BLU-RAY version for Region A/1: North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, it has eight parts and is narrated by John Hurt just like it was when it played on BBC.

Seeing what some people do every day to survive is jaw dropping. Crossing the desert for days, counting SAND DUNES to navigate to an oasis, knowing if you make a mistake that everyone with you and your flock will die? Scary. Harvesting turtle eggs to protect them from predators so you can release them later on and hunt them when they have grown bigger? Amazing. Building bridges over raging rivers by training tree roots, knowing your dad started training you to work on the bridge he started when he was a child and knowing the job won't be completed in your lifetime? Incredible. And crossing a wire rope bridge wearing FLIP FLOPS over the worlds most powerful raging rapids just so you can get a fish to feed your family? I was afraid to watch, yet he does this every day.

The usual production values we have come to expect from BBS are there in abundance, stunning visuals that make owning an HDTV worthwhile.

The only negative is the "Special BD-Live added feature “Zanskar,” about the people of this remarkable land on the edge of the Himilayas" will not stream, it says my Bluray player doesn't have an internet connection. My PS3 is most certainly connected to broadband internet and streams HD video from Amazon and Netflix without any issues. But even if Human Planet didn't have problems streaming, I would much rather have the content I paid for be included on the disc itself. Otherwise, you have no guarantee of getting it today, let alone in five or 50 years.

I took off one star for the streaming failure since I can't view one of the features, otherwise it would have been five stars.
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on June 23, 2011
...perhaps Amazon should create a 6th star category for series like this one. Outstanding and it shows life as it is out here away from the developed world. In the third, sometimes fourth, world I live in it's all about survival and life can be too short for many people. Their daily existence sometimes depends on the kindness of others and usually what they can grow for themselves.

This series also shows what I see every day at it's most extreme and illustrates how in some parts of the world, humans still live in concert with nature. It goes on to warn us about what happens when that balance is upset and although well intentioned, development & 'progress' almost always affect traditional cultures in terrible ways. Over-population in the third world, the alarming deforestation across much of Africa, the pillaging of the resources, depletion of fish stocks, garbage, and the total lack of concern for nature in some parts of the world will eventually affect those who come after us.

And, the lack of respect by some important elected officials towards improving the environment is utterly depressing and will have hugely negative affects on countries around the world. If you think it's bad now just wait until 2025 when some of the most impoverished countries in the world will nearly double their populations from 2010 figures (for instance - some experts predict that one in four people in the world will be living on Africa continent by around 2050). Their much depleted natural resources are already in a negative decline and in some countries in Africa it will become even worse than it is today. For instance, in Ethiopia, by some estimates only three (3) percent of the trees that existed 35 years ago are still there. Entire hillsides have now been stripped of their foliage which has led to big problems with erosion, desertification, and etc. Meanwhile, unchecked population growth across the continent means that humans will take more and give back less (usually nothing) to replinish nature for the next generations.

So, I recommend that you watch this series to see where humankind currently is as it relates to managing its natural resources (a snap shot in time). Then, sit down with your grandchildren a decade, or two, from now and see if its gotten better or worse. I predict worse for the third world.
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on September 26, 2017
I wanted this... I really did... but when I would press "Play" after about a minute the sound quits. Then the picture jerks and stops and starts. So I sent it back and got another one... same thing. I have no trouble watching any other blu ray so that leads me to believe it is the manufacturing of the disc itself.
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on December 9, 2013
Wow, what an exhilarating trip around the world! This program allows you the adventure of a lifetime for what typically amounts to the price of admission for two at your local movie theatre. Riveting, and insightful stories abound, with amazing camera work and storytelling that grab you and never let go. This is truly something to treasure, as many of the peoples' way of life documented in this program will fast become extinct with the continued encroachment of urbanization. Many of the stories put in to perspective our frequently upsetting 'first-world problems,' and makes one long to experience another culture first-hand, speak another language, or at the very least visit your local park for a gratifying nature experience. The Blu-ray version with David Attenborough is the way to go if you can. Please, keep them coming BBC!
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on December 29, 2011
"Human Planet" blends Planet Earth (Six-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray] and Life (David Attenborough-Narrated Version) [Blu-ray] with anthropology. The filming is beautiful, the scenes are extraordinary, and the vastly different people are relatable to the viewer/observer. "Human Planet" uses exquisite HD filming and sweeping shots of people performing ordinary and extraordinary tasks.
Having studied anthropology I acknowledge that this series is beautiful, yet it does not go into as much detail as other ethnographic productions. The producers were more interested in capturing particular events than showing the day-to-day aspects of other cultures and persons. I gave this series 4 stars because it succeeds in making anthropology accessible, exciting, and relevant to a large audience. However, If the producers, photographers, and researchers acknowledged their own prejudices/biases I may have given this series five stars. Though each episode is followed by a "behind the lens" short feature (somewhat "raw footage" of the crew), Human Planet still seems to exploit the people it observes. For example, in one "behind the lens" the subject-person was asked to repeat a daring and dangerous tightrope walk several times just so the producers/videographers could capture the perfect shot. In contrast, a different "behind the lens" showed a researcher participating in an event, and it documented his personal observations and experiences.

To summarize: This series provides countless examples of the remarkable ways people survive, thrive, and interact with nature. I enjoyed this series but I wish the producers/videographers were more explicit in their personal biases. The filming is beautiful, but a drawback may be that the filming is too polished and heavily edited. Unfortunately, this series does little in the way of contextualizing its subjects's cultures, societies, tribes, and the individuals' characteristics. Perhaps the "Human Planet" team would have benefited from reading Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel (The Natural History Library)
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on January 19, 2014
This is an awesome series and I can't believe there are only three discs!!! They should have made like 20 discs!!! Humans are so interesting.

However, the narrator is a British man named John Hurt. I was expecting the late finger-picking blues man Mississippi John Hurt to be the narrator. It took some time to get over the fact that it was not the blues player. After awhile I realized that a documentary like this just wouldn't be the same with someone other than some proper-sounding British bloke.

At the end of each DVD, there is a "Behind the Lens" segment. Those were strange because the British film crew seemed more bizarre than the tribes they were filming. The tribesmen were so comfortable while the Brits were awkward and high-maintenance. I hope they make another Human Planet that documents how strange British people are.
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on March 19, 2011
This review is based on the UK Blu-Ray release and, so far, there seems to be no reason to believe that the US version will be any different.

If you have seen the BBC's superb previous flagship series 'Life', then I can summarize this as being the human version of that series by way of Planet Earth: A collection of exotic and sensational footage of humans, some living in various cities or villages around the world, but most of them at the fringes of civilization, all having to meet nature's challenges using ingenuity, daring and downright unusual or dangerous solutions. This includes dealings with environmental dangers, human extents to find or hunt for food in the most extreme environments, various extreme forms of human dwellings and adaptations, and the many types of relationships between humans and animals ranging from exploitative, to practical survival tactics or pest-control, the religious, the conservationist, etc. The structure of these 8 episodes is modeled after Planet Earth, with a different terrain per episode: Oceans, deserts, the Arctic, jungles, mountains, grasslands, rivers and cities.

If you have seen some of the regional documentaries by the BBC such as Wild China, Wild Africa, South Pacific, Yellowstone, etc. then you have seen this kind of footage where the local humans and their unique adaptations to their environment are featured along with the indigenous wildlife. Except that this series focuses only on the humans, and manages to find some truly amazing footage, most of it new.

Frankly, I approached this series with skepticism, seeing as the series is about people rather than the relatively more surprising and exotic behaviour of wildlife. I also had a few apprehensions about their approach, and half-expected environmental preaching and a general attitude of 'pure nature vs. evil humans'. But these concerns were allayed, and within 2 episodes I was hooked. Only the final episode ends on a thoughtful, environmentally-aware note while the rest of the series rejoices in human ingenuity and rich footage of human resourcefulness and unusual adaptations to their environments.

Some examples: Dangerous digging of a network of underground aqueducts in the Algerian deserts, building 35-meter-high tree-houses in the jungle with nothing but jungle materials and agile footing, lung-killing sulphur mining in Indonesian volcanos, a shepherd racing against elephants in Mali to reach a water-hole, Mongolian hunting using golden eagles, fishing on the edge of Victoria Falls, using falcons to keep skyscrapers clean, a dangerous long trek over thin ice in the Himalayas by children just to go to school, bedbug infestations in cities, tricky street-gangs of aggressive monkey thieves, stealing food from hungry lions, and much much more.

Which brings me to the violence. This time there is violence between humans and animals, most of it involving hunting. I can see this causing an uproar among animal lovers when this is released. But I think the BBC did a wonderful job of showing what is needed without sugar-coating or censoring reality and practical concerns often denied by animal lovers, and all this without exploiting or being gratuitous either. In addition, many of the hunts are performed by people that rely on it for basic survival, and they often involve dangerous stunts by the desperate hunters.

That said, some scenes are not appropriate for children. The gore of the hunts is often, but not always, minimized or off-camera, and there are scattered scenes such as the ritual drinking of blood from an animal in Africa, and some cataract surgery on mountain people that have gone blind from the sun, that parents would want to censor, not to mention the parental guidance needed on various daring stunts performed by carefree locals.

I found it very entertaining and illuminating to compare this release to some of the Mondos from the 70s, especially the underrated work by Antonio Climati who made a series of shocking, exploitative but justifiably observational documentaries on the relationship of humans with animals. Some scenes from Human Planet would not only fit right in with those works, they even cover some of the same footage and I would not be surprised if they used those documentaries for ideas (e.g. children hunting and eating huge spiders, sky-burials in Tibet, dangerous and bloody whale hunting by men in a small boat, the Matis hunting monkeys in Brazil, etc). Except, of course, the shock is minimized as much as possible rather than exploited, and the narrative is more inspirational rather than sarcastic.

Picture quality: I add this almost as an afterthought because the images are obviously stunning and in high-definition 1080/16:9 and you would expect nothing less from the BBC. Except that, due to the content, don't expect as many wildlife color postcards that bleed off your screen. In other words, very slightly and relatively less jaw-dropping than Life/Planet Earth, but this is still full of breathtaking scenery and cinematography of the highest quality.

Narration: Many documentaries have been weakened or ruined by a poor choice of narrator, and I was starting to think that nothing but Attenborough would do anymore, but they made a find on this one with John Hurt who lends a warm, rich and nuanced narration. Superb.

Finally, the structure: As mentioned above, each episode focuses on various extreme adaptations to a specific terrain and this gives the series a somewhat systematic framework. They thankfully got rid of the overview episode seen in previous releases and replaced it with a 10 second preview at the beginning of each episode, and they continued the trend of the ten-minute behind the scenes footage at the end of every episode which always adds some depth or human angle to the footage.

In summary, I am tempted to remove one star because the style here is more modern sensationalist entertainment-oriented footage rather than the educational and fact-filled documentaries that Attenborough made in the past. But the series is inspirational, rich, fascinating, mostly new, and very well put together, so I can't give this anything but full marks. Just keep in mind the caveats mentioned above.
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on March 4, 2016
I love this dvd set. It shows many fascinating people and their cultures. The film is directed well and makes you feel as if you are experiencing the journey with the people on the documentary. It gives you perspective on your own life as you see what "living" means to different people around the world. Many of the cultures/people covered in this dvd are smaller tribes/regions that many of us are unaware of. I gave many as gifts for the holidays. Very informative and educational, but some parts are not suitable for young children.
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on August 23, 2011
There have already been some excellent reviews posted, so I'll be brief:

Visually stunning, this series shows how humans have adapted to survive in the most inhospitable and difficult environments on Earth. For anyone interested in documentaries of the world around us, this is a top-quality BBC production. Included in the boxed DVD set are episodes showcasing Oceanic, Jungle, Arctic, River, Desert, Mountain, Grassland and City cultures. Every episode might not be your cup of tea (I personally found the City episode to be less interesting than the others, though ymmv), but as a whole, the series paints an amazing picture of the ingenuity we have been endowed with as a race. (It also paints an amazing picture of how, even in the most primitive of places, we humans have the capacity to take advantage of each other.)

As it's from the BBC, the series does not shy away from nudity or sexual topics - though they're in no way 'waved in front of your face'. (Which i applaud - to be human is to possess the equipment and drives necessary for making more humans, and this is a series about humanity.) The only reason I mention this is because many people might look to purchase this for viewing with young children. Be warned that you will probably have to explain a few things to your kids as they watch this series. This bothers me in no way, but there might be more conservative Amazon members reading this review. (E.g., the puritans who successfully campaigned to have parts of the "Walking With Beasts" series blurred out.)

A monumental work of modern anthropology, and highly recommended.
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on June 5, 2016
The Human Planet DVDS are a must have if you enjoy learning more about nature, animal and people on our beautiful planet Earth. I highly recommend this series and Planet Earth series. Filmed in High Definition, it has some absolutely fantastic scenes. The "Living Bridges" episode is AWESOME as is the episode with the falcon in the middle Eastern city of Dubai. I hope you have a chance to see the series"Human Planet".
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