Human Planet [Blu-Ray]

Human Planet [Blu-Ray]
Part of the BBC's Planet Earth series, Human Planet continues the tradition of delivering jaw-dropping High Definition footage of remote locations around the world, rarely observed by modern urban civilization. As the title suggests, the focus of this batch of segments is human beings, primarily our unique ability to adapt to varying environmental scenarios, from the arctic to the rainforest to mountaintops. Each of the eight sections details a specific habitat type (rivers, cities, deserts), documenting the various surprising modes of survival within, boasting comprehensive, up-close footage of some of the least inhabitable and most dangerous locales in the world. For example, in the "Arctic" section, an Inuit community digs underneath the ice when the tide goes out to gather mussels, risking drowning and hypothermia should the water come back sooner than expected. In addition, a "Grassland" sequence follows tribe members as they track a pride of lions, waiting for them to kill so they can distract them and steal some of their food. In both instances, the BBC crew dives right into the action, going under the ice and into a den of hungry lions to obtain the best possible footage. As a supplement, the three-disc Blu-Ray set features a "Behind the Lens" extra with each episode that expands upon some of the dangers the crew encountered, such as toxic fumes from a volcano where locals collect sulphur and a rickety tree house in the rainforest. These behind-the-scenes snippets are just as compelling as the documentary, giving some context to the extent of the work that went into creating such a comprehensive, breathtaking series. And while some of the sections are a little hard to stomach, such as an "Air Burial," wherein funerals are conducted by cutting up dead bodies and feeding them to vultures, or are bizarre, like the women that breastfeed fawns, the experience on the whole is thoroughly engrossing. Even the narration by John Hurt is used to maximum effect, tossing in some occasional dry British humour to add levity when possible. (Warner)