San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
August 15
A "writer" in that I transmit others' words, all the time, on a huge variety of subjects. A professional observer; a silent listener. I nonetheless have a voice, which I like to let out once in awhile (nice doggie). Owner of children and cats and one puppy. Standing still, battling fight or flight syndrome.


APRIL 23, 2009 4:48PM

"Earth" - The Movie (Part 1 - "The Families")

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 Well, last night we went to see "Earth", the 99-minute pseudo compilation via Disney of an epic BBC work called Planet Earth from 2006.  This one focuses on three families:  Polar bears, elephants and humpback whales.

(The next excerpt will be out in 2010 - called "Oceans.")

I have mixed feelings, but the children sure loved it.

We own the progenitor, the multi-episode set, narrated by David Attenborough (they had to one-up that by putting James Earl Jones in this one; and Patrick Stewart narrates the same shorter film in the UK and Europe), so it wasn't a surprise, exactly, although the creators say 40% of this is formerly unseen footage.  And though we have the flat-screen/HD stuff at home, nothing - Nothin! - beats the big screen.

But they sure want you to root for the traditional family!  Calling the polar bear adults "Mom" and "Dad" was a bit much, I thought, considering they're never in a scene together.  In fact, they might have been many miles apart.   And acting as though the lone male lion in a pride ready to prey on drought-stricken elephants called his bitches to the hunt was another odd thing.


The girls felt sorry - manifested tragically! - for any loss or potential loss. 

For example, the young deer (gazelle) that the Cheetah chased down and then embraced, they had tears in their eyes, but we were mesmerized by the slow motion camera that caught the action, backed by appropriately dramatic music.  We literally could not breath for two minutes.                                  


When the "father" polar bear is trying to get a meal, after having been adrift in icemelt seas for days, by weasling into a sea lion pack, they first are concerned for the baby sea lions.  But then, when the male bear has failed, they are worried and grief-stricken at his laying down on the ice, apparently to simply die, on the edge of his buffet of tusked counterparts - both prey and enemy in this scenario.  [And, they asked me that loaded question, more than once, Why didn't the people just filming this just feed/water/help them?]


It made it confusing.  I mean, who are you supposed to root for?  The same thing happened with a couple of wolves, trying to separate out a young caribou from the pack.  We Love wolves, and think they are unfairly maligned.  But doggone it, the baby caribou is so darn Cute!


The humbacks are as friendly and mystical as always.  The penguins as goofily competent as ever.  The elephants are treated with respect and reverance. 

There's some fantastic footage of mating birds of paradise.  Truly exceptional stuff - especially they way they set it up - he cleans house, preens, all day... and then the broad doesn't come.  Or if she does, she leaves!

birdoparadise               birdoparadise2

Learned a little about the aurora australis, too - like of its existence!



By far, the most compelling thing to me, aside what I learned of the forests of our northwestern hemisphere (the oxygen they alone provide our earth), were the aerial shots - the migration of literally thousands of caribou "way" up north, or hundreds of crane - migrating over the highest peaks in the world, the Himalayas; the immense waterfalls of the Kalahari, shot as though for a 3-D experience (I warn you - vertigo!).  The time-lapse photography that shows winter/spring/summer in the icy north, or an entire season in a rain forest.


The most spectacular shot-get would have to be the Great White Shark, leaping into the air, rolling, while in his maw sits a doomed seal.  It's unbelievable footage.  I know they stayed out in the veldt for weeks to get the lions accustomed to them before they could get their great lion "kill shot".  But how'd they get this shark?  They don't even have a pic I can download of this, just one of when the shark's nearly resting in the water with the seal on board.  But it is awesome, and oh so revealing:  the girls feel sorry for the predator polar bear, but hate the predator shark.  I had to point this out to them, of course.


All in all, it was a good experience.  I got to have fun leaning over to the Elder, whispering, "That's what Governor Palin wants to shoot out of helicopters," as we watched a wolf couple, obviously filmed from a helicopter, pick their way briskly through the tundra.  It was my pleasure to illustrate the dichotomy of loving animals, and yet supporting their kill or be killed lifestyle, when necessary.  

 It was softer-spoke than its BBC edition, but held true to the ethos: 

                  This is our planet.  She is dying.  We must save her.





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Disneyplanet Pals, Unite!
i loved the TV version; it had the most astonishing nature cinematography i've seen in my life. ever. but i didn't even know disney had made a movie version. now i'm faced with the classic dilemma; should i go and see it at the theater, where it'll be far more of an experience, or go the lazy apathetic route i usually do and wait for it to come out on netflix. decisions decisions!
Yummy post! I heard the filmmakers’ interview on ‘Fresh Air’. Can’t wait to see the new-platform slow-motion photography, though I’ll bet the blunted, gentle treatment will be a bit of a let down. Oh well.
David, they rigged up a two man (i.e., a seat for two, only, legs dangling) setup under a Real hot air baloon - i.e., flames right behind their heads, for some of the aerial cinematography. It was Scary and awesome looking!

Nanate: GO to the theater. Make sure it's got a Big screen, not one of those penny-ante little big screens. And digital sound. Preferably. Here ya go (if you're in K.C.):

Cinemark The Palace
500 Nichols Road, Kansas City, MO 64112
(816) 756-5819

Cinemark Merriam
5500 Antioch, Merriam, KS 66202
(913) 789-7555
cool! the cinemark merriam is less than half a mile from my place; i've got no excuses now:)
wtf moment: I put on the Chiefs jersey, avartar-wise, and then when I went to change it back, it wouldn't Let me. I'm all Black. Even on stuff I've already posted.

is this on my computer only? I've now changed it again (little light humor for the hearing-impaired crowd), and the new one shows up... Just the cigar-smoker does not. WTF!?
wow, thank you! i wondered about this since the marketing suggests planet earth lite. sounds like a wonderful family viewing experience. love that you wove in the Palin comment. did they have the elephants playing in the water? of all things, that has stayed with me. love love loev and gratitude although i miss the cigar.
I'll check it out. Great post.
thanks for the review CM. I heard an interview today on Fresh Air with the two filmmakers. I liked what they had to say about how they filmed it in the least obtrusive way with a special camera that enabled them to be more than a mile away on many shots.

(btw, I like your new WTF avatar)
I saw the shark nabbing the seal on "Planet Earth", which was broadcast a few months ago.


They had a little short at the end of each episode, discussing technical matters. The crew had an incredible super super slow motion camera and waited for hours. Finally, they caught the action, which lasted for only a couple of seconds in real time.

I love "Planet Earth" and look forward to the Disney film, but not the moralizing and faux anthropology.
what a great post!!!!!!!!!fabulous pics and good narrative!
Fantastic photo's. While I had seen some on PBS, nothing like this. The picture of that Cheetah is Art in motion. You're right about the Earth, if we don't get busy, Mother Earth will die.
So glad your wrote this! I'd been thinking about going to see it but am totally destroyed at the animals killing other animals deal so can't watch it. I know it's nature and it has to happen and animals have to eat other animals -- I KNOW this -- but I CAN'T watch it without freaking out. (This drives other people crazy, I'm like, NO Sidney! You CAN'T watch Animal Planet! Grandma's too freaking sensitive! and possibly mentally ill.) Maybe I could watch it on t.v. and just fast forward thru the sad parts... (I would be a shitty nature photographer, trying to warn gazelles and seals and zebras about impending doom and then buying up bologna at the Jungle Store to feed the starving lions...)
It's really not that bad.... Well, it could have been worse, let's put it that way. They panned away when the cheetah had her paws on the little gazelle - but you knew what was coming; and the elephants dying of thirst - staggering; most of all, the shark with the seal - yeah, you couldn't see it.

(Maybe they'll do a G rated version? You never know. The cinematography is simply amazing.)
Very interesting story. By the way your picture is very seductive. Take John
great post - thanks a lot. You must advise me. We wanted to take our 4-yr-old son to this as his first big screen viewing experience. What do you think? rated and favorited - thanks!
Why the hell don't you write more?