Few things are as fascinating and mysterious as our natural world. Plants, animals, insects and their multiple respective ecosystems work in harmony to create vast environments where life and death struggles happen every day. While we humans live, work, and play in cities and towns, the natural world around us has continued to thrive and do what it has done for millions of years: adapt and evolve.
How does one accurately describe the latest BBC nature documentary series, Life, in words that do it justice? It’s next to impossible. All I can really say is that if you haven’t had the opportunity to see the series in HD on the Discovery Channel, I highly recommend you check it out on Blu-ray if you can. The picture quality, the detail, and the clarity of the images are so breathtaking that you’ll be mesmerized from first episode to the last.
What makes this series different from other nature documentaries is the filmmakers’ ability to get extremely up close and personal with each animal subject. A lot of the camera techniques used in the making of this documentary series have never been done before, and what results is an intimate portrait of each animal species presented.
There are ten episodes in the Life series, which include: Challenges of Life; Reptiles and Amphibians; Mammals; Fish; Birds; Insects; Hunters and Hunted; Creatures of the Deep; Plants; and Primates. Each episode is full of engaging and entertaining stories about creatures both familiar and rare. It’s a definite treat to watch.
There is a documentary about The Making of Life that delves into the challenges and issues faced by the filmmakers over the four years it took to capture all the footage seen in the series. There are also Deleted Scenes worth checking out.
And no, I did not forget that Oprah Winfrey narrates the American version of the series. Her narration has received less than stellar reviews on Amazon.com and from other people I know who watched the series on Discovery. If you like Oprah, you’re sure to enjoy her narrative style.
Winfrey, like Morgan Freeman in March of the Penguins, humanizes the animals by giving them personality traits and emotions that are identifiable to the audience. It’s kind of what Disney and Looney Tunes does with animals; it anthropomorphizes them so we can empathize with their struggles and triumphs easier.
Now, with the Oprah version you have the option of watching the episodes without her narration and with just the musical score, which is good if you find her to be a distraction. Another option, if you’re an anti-Oprah voice-over person is purchase the original BBC version with narration by naturalist David Attenborough. You’ll notice a marked difference in the star ratings of both versions if you check out Amazon.com.
Aside from what you may think of Oprah’s narration style, Life is a fascinating look at the world that surrounds us. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget about the animals that share this planet with us. Life helps bring the massive natural world into view, and helps us gain some perspective on our own lives at the same time.
What was your favorite episode or animal profiled in Life? Leave a comment and let us know!
Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Check out these preview vids below!