National Geographic-Great Migrations (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 1-Dec-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(50.00)
Featurette-Science of Migrations (50.00)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 300:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Leslie Schwerin

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI $54.95 Music Anton Sanko
Robert Neufeld
Joachim Horsley

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Great Migrations is a double Blu-ray set released by Madman Entertainment and produced by the National Geographic network. It takes a thematic approach to the stories of grief and triumph which typify the struggles of life - particularly life on the move.

     The set comes on two Blu-rays. Each carries three 50 minute episodes although there are technically only four actual episodes. The last two present, respectively, the science behind the migrations and the behind the scenes work that went into the series.

     The episodes are :

  1. Born to Move;
  2. Need to Breed;
  3. Race to Survive;
  4. Feast or Famine.

     The extra episodes are, as said,

  1. The Science of Migrations;
  2. Great Migrations: Behind the Scenes.

     Picking a theme like migrations means two things: There are going to be a lot of shots of masses of animals and there are going to be a lot of images of suffering. The series scores big on both counts. Whilst the daily journey of the Golden Jellyfish is beautiful to behold there is a definite limit to how many baby wildebeest I can see brought down by a variety of large toothed creatures, both plains based and aquatic, in gloriously gruesome slow motion.

     The series is narrated by Alec Baldwin who gives a straight reading to some really plummy dialogue. Perhaps it is a result of a childhood diet based on Jacques Cousteau and David Attenborough but I like my commentaries more on the subtle side. The script is certainly dramatic but you have to dig a little deeper to ferret out the key information that gives sense to the carnage. The series covers every conceivable migration from whales and sharks in the seas, wildebeests and elephants on land, and falcons and butterflies in the air. The show can be a little confusing as it intercuts between the various stories in each episode as though it were all happening in real time. Still, for spectacular scenes of mass movement Great Migrations fits the bill and is a worthy addition to any nature collection.

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Transfer Quality


     Great Migrations was filmed and broadcast in 1080i High Definition. Somewhat surprisingly that resolution has been maintained for the Blu-ray release. It appears in its native 16x9 widescreen aspect ratio. Great Migrations contains stunning photography filmed in every jungle, desert, ocean around the world. It will probably be compared to the BBC series Life, which is almost entirely in 1080p. The comparison is unfavourable. Life looks better on almost all counts. This is not a question of colours - Great Migrations is spectacularly accurate and lush in its colours. It is certainly not in its photography which is universally excellent - as another group of intrepid cameramen camped out in hell-holes across the globe just to get that shot. It is only in the areas of sharpness that Life really trumps Great Migrations. The latter really only lacks that last degree of clarity and crispness to make it showcase material.

     There are no technical problems with the transfer.

     There are subtitles in English which are clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Great Migrations carries a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. Players without the ability to decode the DTS HD Master Audio will down convert it to DTS.

     This is a strong, beefy track. The Baldwin monologue is clear at all times. The rest of the soundscape relies on ambient or recorded animal sounds and music. The grunts, chirps, growls, howls and snuffles of the creatures on display are crisply rendered. There is a nice surround presence from time to time and the subwoofer gets used whenever the music starts to pound away.

     The music for the series consists of innumerable themes adapted to the circumstances - lots of majesty in the large animal movements and pounding drums in the chase scenes. It is a good score which supports the action.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     It is hard to know where episodes end and extras begin. There are two bonus episodes but since they are each the same length as the main programme it is hard not to see them as part of the show. The first Science of Migrations is actually a lot deeper than the show itself and contains information key to the understanding of the series. The Behind the Scenes film is also excellent. The Planet Earth series introduced, as far as I can recall, the idea of showing, at each episodes end, the work behind the scenes getting that great shot. The Life series also has these moments, tacked on to the end of each episode. In my view that is a better approach than a standalone feature as it can be some time between watching the first episode and learning about making that episode. Still, a very interesting and worthy feature - narrated by Peter Coyote.

R4 vs R1

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

   This is an All Regions Blu-ray.


     Great Migrations is an interesting and often spectacular series about the great movements in the animal kingdom. The Blu-ray looks and sounds very good although those wanting to wring the last pixel out of every frame will find it lacking compared to Life and other Full HD nature shows. The extras are as good as the show itself.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, December 24, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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