"Behold, my brothers, the spring has come. The earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves to inhabit this land. My love of our native soil is wholly mystical."
- Chief Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotaka), Hunkpapa Sioux (1831-1890)
While I’ll be the first to admit that I personally have not done my best at protecting the earth and all of the gifts that it yields to each of us, I do believe if we don’t really examine our carbon footprint and do what we can to reduce it, that the outcome will be grim. I know for me it is easier to not think about it and just take that easy route through life. In doing so I really haven't realized how our everyday choices have affected the earth and will continue to affect not only our future but that of our children and all who follow after them.
I really enjoyed watching Earth From Above: Food and Wildlife Conservation, not just because it was an easy watch, but because it was very informative and didn't hold back from the truth. Like many other documentaries it's based on the opinions of those who produced it, but they did maintain quite a few resources to back up their opinion. Along with these professional resources they have also brought in a lot of people whose lives have been directly affected because of the misuse and abuse of our natural resources. It was these peoples' stories that helped to drive the message presented here for me. I also liked how most of the people interviewed were of a similar, if not same opinion of the producers at the same time they also allowed for some opposing opinions to be expressed, to present a more informative approach.
Earth From Above was originally produced in French, yet this release uses a translator who speaks over the host of the show, yet all of the other people in the film are just accompanied with English subtitles. So for me this dampened the overall experience as a documentary where I would have preferred not to have read through the subtitles. Overall though it went pretty smoothly. The show was broken up into two different sections called, 6 Billion People to Feed, and Do Wild Animals Still Exist? Both of these were further divided into two parts. While they covered a lot of material during the two sections that totaled over three hours, it moved along at a surprisingly fast pace and kept your attention throughout.
The first section, 6 Billion People to Feed, was primarily focused on the affects of industrial farming and the mass production of animals in slaughter houses. They discussed the affects that these have on the land we live in, the animals we share it with and lastly on us. There are many examples the filmmakers have given us that are definitely eye opening and appalling even. These scenes will not only make you feel a little sick inside, but also feel slightly responsible for indirectly causing some of it by taking part in the market for the things that can have negative effects later.
The second section, Do Wild Animals Still Exist? showed further how we (man) have continued to abuse our world and the direct affect that it has on many of the creatures of the earth. Some of these consequences are related to unintentional causes such as the harvesting of the trees or other natural resources. But many of them are a result of direct slaughter of animals in order steal their lands or food supply or to harvest and profit from their skins or other body parts. And to me this again is just sickening, I have always loved animals and loved seeing them in nature, so to see some of these truths in such a straightforward presentation was saddening but also hopeful as the film showed many of the great people whose efforts have helped to save and rescue many of these creatures. I also felt inspiration to step up and try to do my part in not only reducing my carbon footstep but in reaching out to do more.
The 1080i video presentation is absolutely superb, as the title Earth From Above may indicate many of the shots in this show are shot from up above from the perspective of a helicopter. Unlike the previous Millcreek documentaries I have reviewed I did not see any shakiness or jittering of the film. And the colors are very bright and vibrant throughout; the black levels are very consistent allowing the environments to truly come to life on screen. The transition from the scenes shot from up above to the ones down on ground were very smooth and logical.
The audio presentation was only a 2.0 Dolby Digital Track but again like I mentioned on my previous Millcreek documentary reviews a 2.0 track works and sounds pretty good for such a presentation, but on the previous two I had mentioned that audio was a bit distorted by the environment and that the narrating voice often sounded booming. That's not at all the case with Earth From Above as the audio is very clear throughout and all of the speaking was very clear and consistent. My only complaint on the audio would be the lack of an English translation for everyone besides the narrator/host but overall this was not too bad.
There are no bonus features included but with the four included episodes providing over 3 hours of material with a retail price under $10 I would not expect much more.
When I first received this I kind of put off watching it when I saw from the logo on the cover that it was over 3 hours long. Once I finally put it in, my wife and I both became glued to the show and watched all three hours in one sitting. As I mentioned before it was really an eye opening experience to see how much our choices can really affect the world around us, and while I thought it was very educating there are some scenes that are a bit graphic and may turn your young kids into vegetarians, so you may want to watch it first before sharing it with them.
Overall I think it's something that could be educational and fun to watch for the whole family, if your kids are a bit older. I really appreciated the fact that it made you think about the choices you make, as often we don’t think of or accept responsibility for our descions. I was also inspired by the choices of the many wonderful people they interviewed who have stepped up to try and make a difference. Unfortunately there are no extras so my overall score really drops because of this.