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Essential viewing for nature show fans and a vibrant introduction for any viewers interested in learning more about this expansive country.

DVD Review: Wild China

Written by Caballero Oscuro 

Arriving just in time for the start of the Beijing Olympics, this fascinating new DVD collection dives deep into the heart of China , delivering staggering footage of sights rarely seen by Western eyes. This six-episode series keeps the focus firmly on the Wild of its title, devoting the majority of its time to China ’s natural wonders and wildlife. For viewers familiar with BBC’s recent blockbuster Planet Earth production, this fellow BBC series follows an extremely similar format and theme, ultimately feeling like it could carry the alternate title Planet China. It’s essential viewing for nature show fans and a vibrant introduction for any viewers interested in learning more about this expansive country.

From the birds who have been harnessed to fish for their human owners (pictured on the cover) to the rare Himalayan snow leopard (rarely seen below 15,000 feet), the series provides enthralling scenes of little-known animals in their natural habitats. Also, it features the habitats of those creatures, ranging from the deserts to the jungles, and from the highest peaks to the impossibly vast and desolate Mongolian steppes.

Each episode is nearly an hour long and has its own specific title, so for instance one episode is devoted to Tibet. Rather than delve into any of the continuing unrest there or highlight the life of the Dalai Lama, the producers hone in on Tibet’s animals and majestic vistas, sharing the region’s stunning beauty with the masses.

While there are occasional forays into inhabited areas, this is not in any way a study of China’s current explosive socioeconomic change or the impact of that change on nature. In fact, the producers show some conservation efforts by the populace in nearly every episode, taking pains to portray the harmony the Chinese people strive to reach with nature. It’s a refreshing perspective in direct opposition to the standard portrayal of a Chinese people completely absorbed with rapid development at any cost to the environment. While these conservation efforts are clearly more prevalent in rural areas, it’s still enlightening to find this rare positive outlook.

Like Planet Earth, the production quality here is top-notch, with high-tech, painstaking camera work that delivers wholly unique high-def footage. The only thing that really separates it from the BBC’s other most popular nature series is the absence of narrator and occasional host David Attenborough, but the addition of veteran actor Bernard Hill (Titanic, Lord of the Rings) for this production proves to be a solid choice.

The DVD box set contains all six episodes on two discs. The bonus features are slim, with just a featurette on the making of one of the episodes and the inclusion of traditional Mandarin subtitles in addition to English subs. Wild China is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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Formerly known as The Masked Movie Snobs, the gang has unmasked, reformed as Cinema Sentries, and added to their ranks as they continue to deliver quality movie and entertainment coverage on the Internet.

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