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DVD Review: Human Planet – The Complete Series

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Mankind is one determined species. Human beings have settled in every environment on Earth, always finding a way to adapt to whatever conditions they land in. Even in places like deserts, the ocean, and the Arctic, which would not be natural environments for the intelligent mammals, someone has found a way to build a life there. This struggle and achievement is brought to life in vivid detail in the BBC’s Human Planet, the Complete Series of which is now available on DVD.

Human Planet follows the trend of Life and Planet Earth in uncovering everything the globe has to offer. It contains about eighty stories split into eight parts over four hundred attention grabbing minutes. Those parts are divide by terrain, covering oceans, deserts, the Arctic, jungles, mountains, grasslands, rivers, and cities. Filmed over three years in more than forty countries, and some very, very remote locations, Human Planet is a true tour of the rock we all live on. There are far more than a few sights that most people will never see, and thus, this is invaluable collection for anyone interested in their planet. Spectacular views and strange customs will open the viewer’s eyes to ways of life never considered.

Many nature specials focus on animals. Yet, mankind is animal, and doesn’t get half as much attention from an objective perspective. Human Planet is a study into what makes humans tick. There is simple observation, to be sure, but there is also an examination on why people choose to live in places they aren’t meant to. Of course, there is no rational, simple explanation. But the species is not simple or rational. Instead, a broad picture is painted, and it is up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions. It’s a highly interactive and satisfying exercise that will give any watcher much to ponder long after the series is viewed.

This DVD contains the original British version of the show, which means it is narrated by John Hurt (Harry Potter) instead of Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs), who lent his voice to the Discovery Channel’s air dates in the states. It’s also three hours longer than what Americans were able to watch on TV, so even if you were able to catch Human Planet last spring, it is well worth purchasing this DVD, as there is plenty more to see.

Human Planet: The Complete Series is a three disc set with few special features. But then, isn’t the whole series a special feature, looking behind the scenes at life? At the end of all eight segments there is a ten minute “Behind the Lens” featurette looking behind the scenes at something from that part, giving detail into how the scene was shot, and how difficult it was to work in that location. These are interesting, and not just for the potential filmmaker who is curious about production.

There are also two additional extras. “Fez” is a little over ten minutes in length, and covers the process of tanning skins in Morocco. A little disturbing for lovers of animals, “Fez” isn’t really any worse than the hunting scenes in some of the episodes, which in turn aren’t worse than most animal attacks in nature specials. Death is a part of life, and since mankind uses animals for a variety of purposes, including food, like other animals do, too, it is appropriate to include the feature.

“Volcano” is actually a lot like the “Behind the Lens” bits, in that it is about how the camera crew finds it difficult to film on a volcano. Go figure!

All in all, this is a nifty special. For any fans of nature documentaries, Human Planet offers a unique perspective in some of the wonders of nature and mankind. It is also available on Blu-ray, and would make an excellent Christmas gift. Pick up Human Planet: The Complete Series today.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com