Review: Life DVD

STUDIO: BBC/Warner | DIRECTOR: Serge Bozon | STARS: Oprah Winfrey (narrator)
RELEASE DATE: 6/1/10 | PRICE: DVD $59.98, Blu-ray $69.98
BONUSES: deleted scenes, making-of documentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes on each episode
SPECS: NR | 440 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The BBC’s documentary units produce the most in-depth nature TV programs currently being made, and the 10-part series Life follows the example of Planet Earth in presenting a state-of-the-art view of animal and plant life in minute detail.

LifeThe series is thematically arranged, with each episode concerning a specific topic, like animal predators and their prey, or a breed of animal. The colorful images are eye-filling and seen to best advantage in the Blu-ray version of the package. Younger viewers may not assimilate the facts and statistics included in the narration, but they most likely will respond to the “stories” of these creatures’ existence.

The series virtually sells itself to nature fans, libraries, schools and parents with inquisitive kids, but the BBC has added one major marketing point: the voice of nature-series stalwart David Attenborough has been removed for the American TV airings and DVD release, and Oprah Winfrey instead serves as narrator (BBC is also releasing the original Attenborough version on DVD and Blu-ray). Her extremely familiar tones lend a certain drama to the proceedings and will no doubt be an attraction for viewers uncertain about buying a four-disc set.

The box contains a full-length making-of documentary and individual behind-the-scenes featurettes about each episode. Life received major exposure in its airings on the Discovery Channel in March and April of 2010.


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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”