Earth

by Rick Grant

Grade: A / Rated G / 96 min
For many viewers this feature length adaptation of the television series Planet Earth will seem like deja vu. Aired in 2007, filmmakers Alastair Fothergbill and Mark Linfield took unseen footage as well as previously viewed scenes and edited this documentary as a feature length movie.
Released on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, the film features breathtaking vistas of spectacular scenes of millions of Caribou and Elephant migrations. There are the ahhhh scenes featuring the bear cubs frolicking on the side of a mountain as the mother polar bear guides them to find food.
The original series took five years and 4,500 days in the field at 200 locations, 250 days of aerial photography to get these jaw dropping shots. Fotergbill and Linfield used a powered hot air balloon to get some of their shots and satellite images from space to imprint the audience of the planet-wide scope of this project.
The film makers show the terrible struggle for the elephants to find water as they migrate hundreds of miles with their babies in tow. When they finally find a watering hole, it’s being used by hundreds of hungry and thirsty lions. The elephants and lions form a shaky truce to drink the life giving water.
Afterwards, during the night, a desperate gang of young lions attack an adult elephant, overwhelming him by their numbers. Normally, lions wouldn’t dare attack an elephant, but their hunger drove them to risk everything to eat.
If there is a shocking or sad scene, (nature is cruel) it’s followed by a funny sequence like the mating rituals of birds in the Amazon. Then there are the monkeys wading in a swamp walking upright, which makes them look like funny dancers.
A great white shark leaps into the air grabbing a seal in its mouth. The slow-mo scene shows the power of this aerodynamic predator of the sea. Other sequences show hump back whales migrating thousands of miles to calm waters to have their young, then when the baby is old enough, the mother guides him back to Antartica-a journey full of danger. During the mother’s incredible round trip of giving birth, she has eaten nothing. Protecting her baby is her only priority.
Global warming is driven home by the solitary polar bear looking for solid ice to hunt seal. He travels miles and finds nothing but open ocean. He swims into the open ocean and finds an island full of walruses. The poor bear is weakened by his long swim and his hunger is driving him to do foolish things like attack the walruses trying to isolate a baby. But the adult walruses fight back goring the bear with their tusks.
The film stresses the importance of conservation and the fight against global warming by reducing the CO2 being released into the atmosphere. The ice shelf is melting and it could have a catastrophic effect on the ocean levels and affect not only polar bears but penguins and other creatures of Antarctica.
The film shows the great vastness of the Earth’s wilderness regions and the stark beauty of the planet viewed from space and from hot air balloons. Protecting the earth from human destruction is the ultimate message of the film. Earth is well worth viewing even if one has seen the TV series. It reminds us of our home planet that travels around the sun every year and gives us life.

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