Attenborough in Paradise and Other Personal Voyages

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Released 2-Feb-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 370:56 (Case: 367)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring David Attenborough
Michael Palin
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

    David Attenborough has been making documentaries about the natural world for 50 years which is an incredible record. If you also consider that he was also a senior executive at the BBC and responsible for overseeing the introduction of colour television in Europe his career seems even more remarkable. But those things seem minor to me, and seemingly to the man himself, compared to the sheer quality of his documentary work and his own personal passion and possibly obsession with the subjects. This collection of seven individual documentaries focuses on topics which are of the most personal interest to the man himself. They are mostly on topics which have fascinated him since childhood or were personal investigations. Six of the documentaries included here are from the last ten years, with one from 1971. They are spread over two discs and all seven are interesting and well worth seeing.

    The documentaries are:

  1. Attenborough in Paradise (55:39) (1996) - This show sees David going to the highlands of New Guinea to try and complete a boyhood ambition to see Birds of Paradise in their natural habitat, displaying and dancing. He first tried to film them in the 1950s, however did not really succeed. This time he captures some amazing footage, many of breeds which had not previously been photographed performing their dances and displays to attract mates. This shows the incredible variety of breeds which live in New Guinea and their vastly different plumage and dance styles. Fantastic stuff.
  2. A Blank on the Map (59:51) (1971) - This is the oldest documentary in the set by over twenty years, however it stands up surprisingly well despites some paternalistic attitudes. Attenborough accompanies a government expedition to explore parts of central New Guinea which had not previously been visited by Europeans in order to try and make contact with native peoples. They see a number of interesting animal species along the way and make contact with natives who had not previously been visited.
  3. The Lost Gods of Easter Island (49:13) (2000) - In this show, David tries to trace the origins of a wooden carving he bought at auction and believes came from Easter Island. In order to follow this mystery through he travels to Easter Island itself, St Petersberg, Sydney and London. This show also covers the large stone sculptures on Easter Island and why they were created. An interesting show, but not the best on these two discs.
  4. Bowerbirds - The Art of Seduction (48:39) (2000) - This is an episode of the Natural World series from the BBC. This time he travels to Australia and New Guinea to track down many of the various kinds of Bowerbirds, investigating their building and mating habits. He shows their amazing constructions which are quite different dependent upon the breed and their behaviours which can include vandalism of each other's bowers and thieving of their treasures. Fascinating stuff.
  5. The Song of the Earth (49:22) (2000) - This show focuses on the similarities between music made by men and the natural sounds of animals in nature such as whales, gibbons and various bird species. He shows that the link is more than a broad inspiration of the natural world on human music but rather that most human music is based on the same things as animal noises, marking territory and sex. Interesting.
  6. Life on Air (59:12) (2002) - This show is very different to the rest as rather than being a show by David Attenborough, it's a show about him. It is hosted by Michael Palin and covers his life and career including many interviews with him over the years and an interview with his brother Richard. It includes quite a lot of footage from his old shows and quite a few anecdotes about when things didn't quite go according to plan. It also covers his career off the screen as a BBC executive. Excellent.
  7. The Amber Time Machine (49:00) (2004) - This is the most recent show in the set and focuses on amber, the pine resin which over millions of years has captured and stored life. He was fascinated by amber as a young child when a friend of his gave him some in his early years. He visits various experts in amber and the scientific treasures it reveals. One question which is answered is whether Jurassic Park could actually occur in real life. Interesting.

    A wonderful and eclectic set of documentaries by the greatest television documentary maker ever, which also includes a fascinating documentary on the man himself.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good.

    Due to the various ages of these documentaries the picture quality varies, however, all of them are at least good and most are very good. The first two are presented in 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced and the other five are 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced which reflects their ages.

    The first documentary included some film artefacts especially on archive footage, some light grain in backgrounds and zoomed shots and some mild aliasing and jagged edges. The second, and oldest, was surprisingly good for its age but was a bit grainy, included some jumps and splodges and the shadow detail was a bit murky. The third included some grain, edge enhancement and minor aliasing. The fourth was one of the best including only some minor aliasing. The fifth was a bit grainy in parts and also included some white specks. The sixth had some aliasing and included quite a lot of archival footage which was a bit noisy. The last was very good, but did include some light grain.

    There were English for the hearing impaired subtitles on all documentaries which were excellent.

    The layer change caused a slight pause on Disc 1, but I would guess it was between shows on Disc 2.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD contains English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks encoded at 192 Kb/s. The first show was stereo, the second mono, three through six were stereo and seven was surround.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The surround speakers added some atmosphere and jungle noises which were especially noticeable in the last documentary.

    The subwoofer added some bass to the music, again especially in the last documentary.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    None.

Menu

    The menu was simple including music and the ability to play all or select specific shows.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This set is available in the same format in Region 2 but is not available in Region 1.

Summary

    A wonderful set of one-off documentaries from the master of natural history documentaries, David Attenborough.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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