‘Earth’: stunning, moving
April 23, 2009
Never before has the cycle of life been portrayed in such a compelling and beautiful way. “Earth,” Disneynature’s debut movie, presents a grand exhibition of our planet’s most amazing natural moments.
The documentary ” which absolutely must be seen on a big screen and experienced in surround-sound ” reveals intimate and wild footage, collected from around the world. Each unfolding scene rivals the next, literally making audience members smile, groan, ooh and ahh.
As two-month-old polar bears pop out of their frozen den and learn how to make their way down the icy slope, hearts melt. But when a wolf chases a caribou calf, tension mounts. And so the roller-coaster of emotion goes as “Earth” unfolds. Nature scenes flow from hysterical tropical birds strutting their stuff to lions hunting elephants at night and a polar bear desperately seeking food.
The film follows three families: Arctic polar bears, African elephants and humpback whales near the Equator. But unlike documentaries such as “March of the Penguins,” “Earth” intersperses a variety of exotic animals, majestic landscapes and time-lapse footage of trees and flowers.
In fact, it is the first to display aerial views of Mt. Everest by using a Nepalese Army spy plane, which can fly higher than a helicopter and slower than a jet, in order to capture the proper footage.
But the vistas of Mt. Everest are only one example of awe-inspiring scenes that leave viewers wondering how they ever captured such footage. At the end of the movie, behind-the-scenes clips give people some idea of the effort involved, but it’s not nearly enough to do justice to the more than 4,000 days of cinematography and the combined movie and television series budget of over $40 million (which is the biggest documentary budget in history).
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Accompanying the scenery, instrumentals performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the narration of James Earl Jones complements the visuals. However, at one point, Jones shifts from narrator to somewhat corny commentator; his words match the action unfolding, but I would have preferred allowing my imagination to fill in the blanks.
Still, “Earth” has very few missteps; it is the most stunning depiction of life, on Earth.