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Human Planet

The makers of Planet Earth and Life turn their lenses around.

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The folks at the BBC did it with Planet Earth, and then they did it with Life. We were shown shots of animals living in their natural habitats like we had never seen before. Life blossomed in front of our eyes while we saw the birth and death of creatures. Now, they’ve done it again with Human Planet.

These films are so breathtaking because the filmmakers take their time. We’re able to see the chick break out of the shell and dive off a high branch, falling to the ground, in Planet Earth, because the cameraman waited for the perfect moment. In Human Planet, a young boy has to walk a tight rope across a raging river, not for the entertainment of thousands, but to survive. There isn’t any other way across the river other than risking his life on threads of rope (or, say, enlisting the help of the cameraman), and now we’re able to watch his struggle.

John hurt narrates Human Planet as it takes us around the world, telling the story of humans in eight regions, focusing on a different culture for each part. Human beings have conquered the world — and not because we’re the strongest animal, but because we have the capacity to reason and work together. We can solve problems and find easier ways to cross that river (easier, at least, than trying to swim in a death trap). We are able to recognize the fact that we are mortal and will die someday. The BBC documentary shows us not as philosophical wanderers, but as beings trying to survive. Human Planet reveals humans at our most basic level.

The BBC team used cameras that will enhance the vivid colors and capture the jaw-dropping beauty of our world. If you’re interested in the pains the filmmakers went through, the DVD will has featurettes on the production of the series and behind the scenes views that reveal the tricks the camera men used to get shots.

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