Movie Review: LIFE

Photo: BBC & Discovery Channel
A new series by The BBC & The Discovery Channel

Since 2001 The BBC and The Discovery Channel have brought us Blue Planet and Planet Earth. Two series that changed the way we all thought of nature documentaries. Stories with drama and filmography that made your mouth hang open in wonder. The scene of the Great White Shark breaching the water as it captures a seal for a meal is an iconic image of this series, that even thinking about leaves our jaws open in awe. This dynamic duo now brings us a new series, LIFE, which goes even further into the lives of the animals we share the planet with.

After seeing the full series, we at Green Living fell in love with it. Like the Blue Planet and Planet Earth before it, from the moment the introductory music plays and that first image emerges from the black background your attention is captured. The imagery and the simple narration style which does not talk down to any audience but does not simplify complex concepts, allows everyone from a novice nature lover to a biologist to appreciate this film.

We loved the option to play the series with just music. It was quite a different experience without the narrator, but what emerged was an elegant ballet of the natural world that had all the drama, tragedy and triumph that would make even famous ballet choreographer, Balanchine proud.

This series will leave you feeling inspired by the world around you and wanting to do your best to protect what beautiful life we have around us. The series is not preaching the bad impact of man on the natural world, but rather opens a window to the viewer to see what they miss each day and how wondrous the world around you can be. This is a series you will want to watch over and over.

LIFE, which is narrated by  Oprah Winfrey (the BBC is also exclusively bringing to the retail market the original UK version narrated by Sir David Attenborough), differs from Blue Planet and Planet Earth, in that it tells 130 stories from the natural world focusing on how species have evolved and adapted to the ever changing world around them, in order to survive.

Take the Strawberry Poison Arrow Frog from Brazil as an example. Only the size of a fingernail, the Brazilian strawberry frog follows a very exhaustive ritual, when it comes to keeping her young safe. She carries each of her 6 tadpoles, one at a time, on her back, up a tall tree that is the equivalent in scale to a human climbing the Empire State Building. High in the tree’s branches she deposits each tadpole. But wait, she is not done yet. She must return regularly with food for each of the growing tadpoles, scaling the tree each time until the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis at around 6 weeks. Quite the journey to ensure the species survival.

Through 10 episodes, LIFE, tells the incredible stories of 130 species, 54 of which have never been seen before, such as:

  • The first filming of a humpback whale mating contest called a heat run
  • Komodo dragons bringing down an animal 10 times their size
  • A pebble toad rolling down a mountain, bouncing like a rubber ball, to escape a tarantula
  • The largest gathering of polar bears ever filmed, they confront one another around a huge whale carcass

Here is the episode list:

  1. The Challenges of Life
  2. Reptiles and Amphibians
  3. Mammals
  4. Fish
  5. Birds
  6. Insects
  7. Hunters and Hunted
  8. Creatures of the Deep
  9. Plants
  10. Primates

Life took over 3000 days of filming to create as the filmmakers crisscrossed every continent and habitat! New filming techniques were used that were not used during the previous series such as:

  • High Speed Photography that record images at 1,000 frames per second
  • New rigs allowed for underwater time lapse sequences
  • Chip in the tip cameras allowed remote control “ant-cam” and super sensitive video cameras were able to get into the world of the smaller creatures

Green Living Grade: A- (we would like to see recycled packaging used when it comes to selling these beautiful products).

Like the series before it, Life is made for TV and episodes 1 (The Challenges of Life) and 2 ( Reptiles and Amphibians), have debuted in Canada in March of this year. The full series will marathon on Discovery Canada on June 6th and June 1st the box set will be available at retail outlets for $74.98.