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DVD Review: Wild Pacific

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BBC Earth continues its impeccable tradition of providing brilliant high definition natural photography with Wild Pacific. Known in the U.K. as South Pacific, this two-disc set features well over 300 minutes of amazing natural footage that will illuminate and astonish even the most hardened viewer.

Wild Pacific, from the BBC and Discovery Channel, goes beyond the surface of the palm trees and beautiful beaches to provide visions of the South Pacific Ocean that many viewers will never have seen before.

The real beauty of Wild Pacific is in its photography not just of the immense cerulean waters of its subject but of the people that populate the countless islands. A look at Solomon Island inhabitants and their fishing methods is particularly enthralling, as is an ancient ritual of Pentecost Island dwellers as they practice “bungee jumping” to honour the harvest.

Wild Pacific exposes a lost way of life, one where tribes are reliant on the land and on their ability to hone their craft and practice sustainable living. The heart-rending example of the Rapanui and the great stone moai illustrates what happens when the destructiveness of man, this time couched in an unsettling cult, is unleashed on a gorgeous ecosystem.

The ocean is deceptively beautiful. The crisp, cool blue waters seem remarkably calm at times when captured by BBC Natural History Unit camera, but as narrator Benedict Cumberbatch notes, the ocean is as harsh as it is remarkable.

Sperm whales, for instance, often find themselves off course with their entire pods and can be stranded in bleak avenues of shallow water. One thrilling sequence shows a group of conservation officers in a boat trying to take a particularly wounded and bloodied whale back to sea.

The endless varieties of fish and animals showcased in Wild Pacific serve as constant reminders as to how vast our planet is and how much of it there is that most of us will never even see, let alone dream of. Visions of creatures, lit up like Christmas trees, making their way to the surface for plankton provide more overwhelming neon than the best laser light shows, while the viciousness of tiger sharks catching baby albatrosses is both disheartening and essential.

As usual with BBC Earth releases, each of the six episodes concludes with a 10-minute diary that highlights the filmmakers’ processes and perils as they attempt to capture the incredible footage. It’s a unique glimpse behind-the-scenes of some of the greatest nature photography ever seen.

For more of the dazzling photography and brilliant insight from the people who delivered Wild China and Planet Earth, Wild Pacific is a terrific addition to any nature lover’s collection.

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