26 October 2007

The little earth we live in

While I was staying with my friends in Bloomington, we watched some episodes of a most marvelous BBC series called Planet Earth.

Actually, "we" is only true in part. I watched a couple of episodes with one of them, and then a couple on my own after they were both gone on conferences, feeling a little like an interloper but grateful for their in absentia hospitality. I watched them while eating crema catalana (Catalan crème brûlée--the Catalans invented it first, I do believe), the sugar topping caramelized to a perfect glassy burnt-sugariness with my friend's industrial-sized blowtorch.

I bring this up, full disclosure, because I think it's possible that the sugar high and vanilla euphoria of a perfect little pot of cream may have impaired my judgement on just how totally awesome these documentaries are. But I stand by my review, nevertheless, and am confident that they will prove to be just as awesome even when viewed while not under the influence of a creamy sugary dessert.

Sorry. I got sidetracked. Forward, ho! This series of nature documentaries is definitely the most impressive I have ever seen, in terms of outrageous fiming techniques (you keep yelling "HOW did they get that SHOT??!") and in terms of outrageous animal behaviors and creatures that you never knew existed (you keep yelling "This is CRAZY!" at whatever little baby squid or paradise bird or guano beetle they are focused on at the moment).

And it's not just the animals; as the title indicates, the focus is just as much on habitats and environments. Each episode is named after a habitat such as Jungles, Caves, or Deserts, and the processes of wind and water currents, volcanic eruptions, or plant life are equally as central as the animals.

The filmmakers went out of their way to film behaviors and events that have never before been captured on film: think snow leopards frolicking by their den, strange and rare mating dances, manta rays as big as a room. But the "normal" things become just as fascinating as the exotic, and the intricacies of life on this planet bowl you over in every shot.

Predictably, there's an ecological message in all of this. But you are never preached at. It's enough for the narrator, with his impeccable British accent, to note that the only nesting place of this flock of millions of birds is just one rocky outcropping in the middle of nowhere in the Atlantic ocean. And then to show you how the birds feed the sea lions, or whatever, and the birds feed on the fish, or whatever. So you know, without preachiness, that if the waters rise, and this little outcrop is covered up, a whole lot of trouble is going to happen in the world. And that's just one small example.

So, all I'm saying is, stop global warming. And also: this baby is going on my Christmas list.

PS: there's a little preview video on the Amazon site. Go watch it. And also, if you have HD television, this might be the thing that's most worth watching in high definition, ever. There's a different version you can buy online to watch it that way.


Ben said...

I completely agree. The first time I watched it I couldn't stop and stayed up all night watching them. In case your wondering, I found your blog through NaBloPoMo.

Robin said...

Hey, thanks for commenting, Ben! You are officially the first person who I don't personally know to comment on this blog.

Unless you are one of three Bens who I do know. In which case, hey Ben!

Ben said...

nope, just a complete stranger from across the globe. I just get bored during my business classes and read random people's blogs, seems weird now that I say it.

Robin said...

Not weird, that's really all blogs are, right? Slices of the lives of random people...

Ben said...

true, although it can get annoying because you read stuff written by all these awesome people and want to get to know them, but then you realize "hey, they live 6,000 miles away". It's one of my pet peeves about the internet.

Robin said...

Good point. But sometimes just reading is a kind of getting to know someone, and it can be helpful to feel like you're a part of the world (6,000 miles away).