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185 of 197 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2011
This review is based on the UK Blu-Ray release and, so far, based on what I've read, the US release will be identical (as with Human Planet). Unfortunately, once again, Discovery seems to be planning to air their own butchered version, this time replacing David Attenborough with Alec Baldwin. I'm sure I don't have to recommend to most of you to seek out Attenborough's version.

This is the latest flagship release of the BBC's Natural History Unit, the next in line in the epic 'Planet' series after Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, and Human Planet. It was produced by Alastair Fothergill, executive producer of Planet Earth, and shares several similarities with that release in terms of structure and approach.

David Attenborough not only narrates this one in superb, warm and energetic form, but even makes a couple of appearances in the harsh Antarctic locations at the age of 85! The writing seems to be a collaborative effort however, and is somewhat chaotic.

This seven-part seven-hour series covers the natural and wild habitat of the Arctic and Antarctic circles, covering indigenous life, their survival tactics, hunts, and mating cycles, as well as the landscape and natural events, most of which involve ice in dozens of surprising forms, and the extensive effects of the seasonal cycle. The first episode is a kind of overview, four more episodes cover these habitats during the four seasons, the sixth episode covers various human explorations, studies and residents of these regions, and the final controversial episode covers melting ice and global climate change.

I recently re-watched Attenborough's Life in the Freezer (also produced by Fothergill) in preparation for this series, figuring that this would cover much of the same ground and would probably be a remake/upgrade (as with Planet Earth). Unfortunately, I guessed correctly, but this series adds the following:

- Arctic footage (Life in the Freezer only covered Antarctica). But even this footage is not always fresh, having seen polar bears, arctic wolves and other Arctic animals in many previous releases such as Planet Earth and Life.

- Breathtaking landscape footage in high definition. You've never seen so much ice and snow take on so many forms and do so many awe-inspiring things.

- Upgraded footage in high definition. A lot of the Antarctica footage covers the same ground as Life in the Freezer, except this time they use the latest technology and go the extra mile (or hundred miles) to create the perfect shot.

That said, I felt that Life in the Freezer, in its mere 3 hours running time, educated me better and more systematically. Although Attenborough gives us a wealth of facts and knowledge on this release, the overall writing and structure is lacking. This is mainly due to the chaotic and whimsical structure similar to Planet Earth that splices together any spectacular footage it could find regardless of its educational value. Categorizing the footage under which season it happened in is simply not enough guys.

Let's illustrate this with a specific example: In Life in the Freezer, Attenborough discussed and showed us lichens to complete the picture of life on Antarctica. But, evidently on this release, lichens were deemed too boring and they were replaced with yet another bloody and action-packed hunt instead.

Other details:
- The quality of the picture and sound is top-notch as expected.
- The first overview episode doesn't repeat the same footage used in later episodes as they did with Life/Planet Earth, but cuts out footage from several scenes in upcoming episodes instead to provide a random selection of upcoming attractions. So it is not as repetitively annoying, but it is still the wrong thing to do in my opinion.
- As on previous releases, each episode ends with 10-minute behind the scenes footage. Except this time, some of the scenes that are covered aren't on the episode we just watched, which is a bit weird.

In summary, at least half of this is a remake, and the structure is very weak, but the footage is breathtaking, there are many moments of dramedy as with the Life series, there is some new and surprising behaviour, and the not-so-new is upgraded. So I'll give it four stars. Personally, I think the best reason for getting this is the breathtaking footage of the ice and landscape.
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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2011
It is about the life of animals and the seasons in the Arctic and Antarctic, which cover about a third of the area of the earth. It was filmed in HD using the latest technology, which gives this series the edge over previous series. It was three years in the making.

I have been retired for about a year. So I have been buying quite a few of David Attenborough DVD's, to update my education, as I have been working overseas for 20+ years. I have to confess, that I get bored with the plight of Polar bears, whales, penguins and seals very quickly. It covers many other species than the big four, plus superb landscape filming and I did not get bored. I am now up to episode 7 out of 7 as it aires in the UK. Frankly, the camera work was superb, slow motion and time lapse, under-sea, terrestrial and overhead. David's narration was excellent, it kept up my interest. For my fellow Amazonians, this is a must see/listen, it is stunning.

1. "To the Ends of the Earth" (This includes Scott of the Antarctic)
2. "Spring"
3. "Summer"
4. "Autumn"
5. "Winter"
6. "The Last Frontier" " (humans in the Arctic and Antarctica)
7. "On thin ice" (David Attenborough's view on climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic.)

NB Wiki has a much more detailed synopsis.

The book and the calendar are both available now. Frozen Planet: A World Beyond Imagination,Official BBC Earth Frozen Planet Calendar 2012
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61 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
I cannot understand why some people are being so analy retentive as to cry, "Wolf!" Just because some of the sequences were filmed in a zoo, or a studio, or a 'controlled environment.'
The series itself is visually stunning, & makes many valid points: not least that life in those harshest of climes is life on the very edge of existence.
What was filmed in the Arctic & Antarctic was television at its best. The fact that not everything of the story could be filmed in those places, but had to be filmed elsewhere in conditions that best ensured the safety & survival of the subjects & the camera crew, only completed the picture.
It took nothing away from the reality, only adding to it by filling in the blanks; & had the programme been halted midway through a sequence, just to say that the next bit was filmed in a zoo - the magic of the moment is lost - the continuity is broken.
Nothing was done to intentionally deceive, not unless you're into extreme cynicism & conspiracy theories that is.
Did those people know that the dinosaurs in otherwise 'factual' TV series, weren't filmed in real life? They were nothing more than the (best guess) imaginings of scientists, palaeontologists & CGI?
Nit pick if you must, but get a life!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
This BBC documentary has been a blast to watch, my young nieces and nephews have been very entertained by the wonderful footage and level of educational material. There is also tons of great learning for adults as well it has a happy medium. It's not too in depth but it is a really fun program to watch. I am also surprised that the global warming card wasn't played stronger in the last episode it goes into the warming and changing environment but i didn't feel it was overboard in pushing an agenda. Great fun and enjoyable to watch over a few weeks of time.
+ great footage
+ great narrating by David Attenborough
+ interesting story-line, kids can follow as well as adults
- some footage was recycled in separate episodes
- they often return to the same subjects instead of finding new and different polar bears, killer whales, grey wolves

My favorite footage has to be from the underwater ice and the caving on Mt Erebus, overall 4 for 5 for making entertainment meet learning.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Walt Disney ruined nature videos for me at a young age. They always seemed contrived and patronizing, even to a grade schooler. Later on I found out they were also fraudulent, with phony scenes and made up "facts," the most famous of which is the lemmings jumping off a cliff en masse.

Jacques Cousteau lured me back to nature videos with his scientific focus and spectacular photography. I didn't even know that David Attenborough existed until a few years ago, two generations after he'd become a British icon of nature television. After being blown away by his The Life of Birds series, I was hooked on Attenborough.

So it was a surprise to me that there was such a controversy when his Frozen Planet series was being televised in the U.S. with the videos redubbed by Alec Baldwin, and that one episode would not be shown, due to its controversial nature.

Now that I've had a chance to see the series, I understand why Discovery Channel made their decision, although I still don't agree with it. First, though Attenborough is known in America, he never reached Jacques Cousteau's popularity here. That, combined with just enough Briticisms and comparisons to confuse most American viewers ("playing Granny's Footsteps in the snow," "six times the size of the United Kingdom") must have seemed enough to justify substituting a familiar voice and some minor rewrites. The decision to not air the On Thin Ice episode, about global warming, was less justified. Although there was no way to substitute Attenborough's narration for Baldwin's since Attenborough appeared on camera for much of that episode, I think American audiences will figure it out. It's well worth a tiny bit of discontinuity -- that episode is probably the best one of the series. (Discovery Channel did eventually air the episode.)

While the other episodes are spectacular, they are a bit repetitive -- the vastness of the arctic and antarctic, the polar bears, the penguins, the orcas. Life is nasty, brutish, and short for the polar wildlife. But the On Thin Ice episode explains just what's going on in terms of melting icecaps and rising sea levels at the Poles and what it means for the rest of the planet. It's clear and indisputable, and quite alarming.

Once again, this BBC Planet Earth production is a masterwork of photography. Certainly as much photographic expertise was involved as was scientific expertise. Some of my favorite scenes from the series are the extras that show how the filming was done. The cutting edge equipment, the ingenuity it took to figure out how to get some shots, and the patience involved were all quite remarkable.

Our family is very squeamish when it comes to the brutish aspects of wildlife. These videos did show animals being hunted, and sometimes getting caught. To not show that would make the series unrealistic. But they also didn't dwell on the capture scenes. Once the animal had been caught, the action cuts away before the scene becomes gory. So it's not Disney, but it also isn't Wes Craven.

Lots of extras as well as English & French narration, and English, Spanish, and Canadian French subtitles. Or you can turn off the narration altogether and just listen to music. When it's 105° here in a month or two, an hour of arctic ice will be just the ticket.

Also recommended: Attenborough's Life Stories.

(Thanks to BBC America for a review copy.)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Some viewers will stand in line for films of CGI effects creating other planets or ecosystems or strange creatures inhabiting earth all set in the midst of extraordinary pictorial visions. And yet those viewers may simply ignore BBC projects such as this, regarding them as mundane. But to have the opportunity to see the splendors of the Arctic and the Antarctic - places that really do exist without the need for CGI effects to make them overpowering - is at once breathtaking and terrifying. Such magnificent cinematography in these three discs courtesy of BBC exceeds the imagination of beauty as we know it, and yet are we in the process of destroying it with our ever-increasing disregard for the maintenance of our planet?

Films such as this capture the wonder of nature, the awe-inspiring majesty of endless stretches of ice and snow, the beauties of the wildlife, the power of nature at her best and most glorious. The narration of Richard Attenborough adds to the spectacle, not only because he is a great broadcaster but also because he cares in his private life as a naturalist to preserve the wonders he describes so well.

There have been some fine films about the two ice-clad poles of our planet - films that place a story in front of the landscape to enhance the story. But here the landscapes ARE the story and the magnificent animals that call these regions home are great symbols of overcoming odds of climes and conditions and continue to populate their special species.

If watching the sheer beauty of these films is not satisfying enough for the viewers, then consider the fact that these may be disappearing horizons and for many of us these images may be the last we see of the glories of the Arctic and the Antarctic. For that reason alone it is well worth adding this splendid set to the library - for safe keeping. Highly recommended on every level. Grady Harp, April 13
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2011
Part 3 of second CD, called The Last Frontier is very educational and beautifully done. I had to watch it twice with a laptop next to me so I could do the search for all the places that they were talking about to see the exact geographical locations. I think it's critical for human creation to accept the responsibility not to disturb the animals we encounter, and to encourage everyone to respect and protect the natural world. What a privilege it is to see wild animals undisturbed in their natural environments and no one accomplishes that like the crew of BBC and the talented, dedicated and educated David Attenborough... I wish David lots of health since he truly is indispensable... No better way of watching a nature documentary than having David as the narrator with his own unique accent and personality. All the UK versions are with David but producers change the narrators for some countries but regardless the PLANET producers, a BBC production is the one when comes to cinematography, quality new shots, locations and education... Simply Bravo.

Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series
Life in Cold Blood
The Blue Planet - Seas of Life Collector's Set (Parts 1-4)
Life in the Undergrowth
Frozen Planet [Blu-ray]
Madagascar [Blu-ray]
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2012
Thank you Thank you THANK YOU!

I am SO GLAD to see this original U.K. version, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, is being released! As a major aficionado of all things Arctic and Antarctic, I SO BADLY wanted to watch this as it originally aired on the Discovery Channel. Alas, I could not endure more than a few minutes of that insufferable, blowhard, windbag Alec Baldwin's pretentious narration. It just made the whole thing seem silly and really ruined what would otherwise have been a film experience of flawless quality. So I forewent the experience.

Now I see that there is such a thing as justice and will be able to enjoy the series after all!

Thank You to the filmmakers for correcting their mistake! I will buy the DVD set and I will breathe countless sighs of relief every time I watch!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2013
Adjectives are difficult to describe this beautiful series - enthralling, riveting, interesting, mesmerizing....the list goes on. For those of you who are interested in seeing life in the polar regions, this one's for you. The way in which the DVD set is arranged - by season - is a great way to see how the arctic and antarctic regions are during the different times of the year. The contrasts are amazing.

One might think that the last episode, "On Thin Ice", would be a politicized treatise on global warming, but it is just the opposite. It tackles the problem head on, and provides a great overview of the problem. No matter what your feelings about this problem are, this episode is a nice summary of what seems to be known about the topic without preaching one way or the other.

In my opinion, what makes this series shine is its narrator, David Attenborough. While many actors and actresses have taken the challenge to narrate a nature series, none comes close to the throaty but tame voice of Mr. Attenborough. There is also something about hearing a British accent narrating a nature documentary which just makes it all the more better.

I purchased the regular version before having a Blu-Ray player, so I can't comment on how much better the quality of that version is than this one. No matter, whatever version you own, you will be sure to enjoy this wonderful series. It ranks right up there with Planet Earth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2013
This series is stunning and absolutely wonderful. I saw it on TV and bought it for my grandsons to enjoy. There must be a special place in heaven for nature photographers. The visuals in this series are unforgettable. The Emperor penguins live in the most extreme conditions in the South Pole and the photographers were there to film the 70 mile trip from the ocean that the males and females took. Mating took place and when the eggs were hatched, the females transferred the egg to the feet of their mates. Then the "girls" made the challenging and laborious trip back to the ocean to feed for three months while the males hatched the eggs while being beaten by terrible winds and unbelievable sub-zero temperatures. They are near starvation by the time the females come back and relieve them of their duties. By that time the eggs have hatched and again the transfer is made from one parent to the other. Those photographers endured everything the penguins endured without being able to cuddle together for warmth. This is only a part of this wonderful series - I can't recommend it enough.
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