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Nova: Australia's First 4 Billion Years

4.6 out of 5 stars 478 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Of all continents on Earth, none preserves a more spectacular story of its origins than Australia. With help from high-energy host and geologist Richard Smith, we meet titanic dinosaurs and giant kangaroos, sea monsters and prehistoric crustaceans, disappearing mountains and deadly asteroids. Epic in scope, intimate in nature, this is the untold story of the Land Down Under, the one island continent that has got it all.

Review

Serving up a dazzling scientific travelogue through time and space, this is highly recommended. --Video Librarian

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Directors: David Foss
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: June 25, 2013
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (478 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BQI43E4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,039 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I don't know if Australia's rocks are confirmed as the oldest ever found, but considering they found the first fossil bacteria in its rocks, Australia clearly can be used as a window the whole history of life and geology of the Earth.

Episode one tries to start from the beginnings of our solar system to the first episodes of life on Earth. As it turns out, for the majority of the Earth's existence, life never went beyond single cells. Multicellular life mostly started at the Cambrian explosion around 500 to 600 Million years ago. This was somewhat after the last 'iceball Earth' episode. The idea of the whole Earth covered with ice is one of the most exciting Earth geology ideas of the past few decades(supervolcanoes would be another). As the Narrator says, this period is considered the most boring period for Paleontologists, biologists(except those trying to understand say genetic fossils in cellular dna, the origin of life and so on). I'm kindof disappointed they didn't try to talk about the Gaia hypothesis and some of the latest ideas of chemical self-organization into the first cells.

The second and fourth episodes were the most exciting in my opinion. These episodes have the most to say about diversity of life. Some of the unexpected highlights in my opinion are the plant life during the Dinosaur period still living in Australia and associated Islands. Also, they say some interesting things about the great barrier reef in episode 4. Also in episode 4, they get into some of the artwork of the Aborigines.

The third episode was about the Dinosaur era. As they say, Dinosaur fossils were hard to come by for the longest time; so, they've just started to wright the Australian Dinosaur history. Still, upon rewatching it a few times, I suppose it wasn't too bad.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I'm a nature, history, and natural history documentary junkie. I'll watch just about any I come across, which means that I've seen some spectacular ones (Planet Earth still takes the cake) and some really, really abysmal ones (The Celts and Micro Planet ::shudder::).

Almost anything that PBS puts out or even affiliates itself with is a sure bet to be decent at worst and phenomenal at best, especially in their Nova and Nature productions. Australia leans toward the higher end without being quite phenomenal.

Loves:

The story of Australia itself is wildly interesting. Some of the oldest rocks on Earth can be found there, and it's been through a LOT of changes in the 4 billion years they cover. I've seen several different shows on the continent but none that explain its geologic and natural history so well and in depth. The amount of information provided in each episode is enough that you're really learning a lot, but is presented in a light enough way that it doesn't feel like a lecture. Additionally, the narrator/guide is really good. He may not be David Attenborough, but that's not his fault, and he does very well in spite of that handicap.

Had to learn to love:

The story telling style. The premise is that you and the narrator are going back in time by the power of some magical car that goes a million miles an hour. They thread that throughout and use it as a transition when going between different time periods. At first I found it a little cutesy and annoying, but by the 2nd or 3rd episode it didn't bother me. It's well done so it doesn't become a distraction or make things too stilted/awkward.

Didn't really love:

The CG. Some of it is pretty okay, and then some is rather ridiculous.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Australia's First 4 Billion Years, a set of two Blue-ray Discs, is simply magnificent. These two Blu-ray Discs fill in a big hole in the knowledge that many viewers have about the geology, fauna, flora, and human inhabitants of Australia over a period of 4 billion years. Superb photography, judicious comments of experts, well-done computer animation, and, last but not least, geologist Dr. Richard Smith bring to light the magnificence of the "big, red, flat, and old" country. In summary, Dr. Richard Smith makes Australia accessible to a wide audience by keeping his coverage both erudite and entertaining.
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Format: DVD
This documentary does a really good job of putting the geologic history of Australia in cosmic perspective. It is well-narrated and the visuals are outstanding. It is also designed to appeal to both children and adults. Another winner from PBS NOVA!
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Verified Purchase
NOVA: Australia's First 4 Billion Years Season 1 gives a look at the geological history and paleontology of an important but often neglected continent--Australia. The series is informative and the photography is gorgeous.

My husband and I enjoy series of this type, such as "How the Earth Was Made". This series focuses on Australia and provided many facts concerning the Down Under continent that I had not heard before. Highly recommended.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Another winner from PBS's Nova! Beautifully filmed in Australia, New Zealand and the Arctic Sea just north of Alaska. Hosted by Richard Smith and decorated with stunning digital effects and covering billions of years of natural history, the program takes you on a road trip to the beginning of life on Earth. On the way Smith makes several stops to observe our fragile planet and it's inhabitants for each time period he comes across. What stood out for me was Australia's fantastic landscape; arid deserts, dense tropical rain forest, rugged coastlines, and those incredibly ancient mountains. The "Giant Down-Under" has it all; thermal hot-springs, snow covered peaks while nearby New Zealand and Antarctica sport extensive snow fields and glaciers. Add some hot-water geysers in New Zealand and you'll get an idea of what the early Earth looked like. The scenic shots alone are worth the price of admission. Topping it all off the film showcases Australia's, and Tasmania's, unique plant and animal life, both living and extinct. During his road trip through the "out back" Smith stops now and then to talk to several other scientist about Australia's prehistoric past. One of them was Tim Flannery who gives you an overview of some recent extinctions caused by humans (see my review on his book A Gap In Nature). Some of the oddities you'll see are the Stromatolites in Sharks Bay and one of the oldest "clonal trees" in existence; the Huon Pine in Tasmania. Also viewed are giant prehistoric kangaroos, an extinct Monitor Lizard called Megalania that was a good 15 to 20 feet long. For most of it's history Australia's mammals were marsupials and monotremes but then some 40 to 60 thousand years ago a newcomer arrived by boat: Humans.Read more ›
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