New on DVD/Blu-ray: Human Planet (2011)

Following in the footsteps of Planet Earth and Life, this epic eight-part blockbuster is a breathtaking celebration of the amazing, complex, profound and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature. Humans are the most successful species on the planet. From the frozen Arctic to steamy rainforests, from tiny islands in vast oceans to parched deserts, people have found remarkable ways to adapt and survive. We’ve done this by harnessing our immense courage and ingenuity, learning to live with and utilize the other creatures with which we share these wild places. Human Planet weaves together eighty inspiring stories, many never told before, set to a globally-influenced soundtrack by award-winning composer Nitin Sawhney. Each episode focuses on a particular habitat and reveals how its people have created astonishing solutions in the face of extreme adversity. Finally we visit the urban jungle, where most of us now live, and discover why the connection between humanity and nature here is the most vital of all.


After missing out on BBC’s “Planet Earth” and “Life” I was ecstatic when I was offered the opportunity to watch their latest nature documentary, “Human Planet,” and in gorgeous Blu-Ray no less. When I received the package I quickly unwrapped it and popped the first disc in my PS3 and sat back to get my documentary on, and I was not disappointed. “Human Planet” is an eight episode documentary narrated by John Hurt (“Hellboy”) that takes viewers around the globe and shows us why we are the most successfully adaptable species on the planet. Where “Planet Earth” was about nature as a habitat, and “Life” was about the wildlife that lives in those habitats, “Human Planet” is about how humans have adapted to those same environments and in some cases created new ones.

Each episode has a focus on an environment; Oceans, Deserts, Arctic, Jungles, Mountains, Grasslands, Rivers and Cities, and each episode illustrate how different cultures deal with those environments. Sometimes they are similar sometimes wholly different. Sometimes the situations for the same environment can differ in extremes. Take the Rivers episode. Every year in Brazil, the Rio Negro floods to dangerous levels, submerging whole parts of the jungle, while in Kenya the people have to track elephants along a dry riverbed to find water. I really found a lot of the amazing and dangerous things that people have to do just to survive, or to get the things they want. I watched a man climb a tree 40 meters high to get honey for his wife who hadn’t had any for a while. I watched as some people traveled below the ice during a neap-tide to gather mussels before the tide came back and they were drowned. I watched as two men braved crashing waves at the bottom of a seaside cliff to gather Goose Barnacles. And that’s just a few things I watched in complete awe.

Granted there are some things not that amazing, but still entertaining like Halloween in Churchill, Manitoba where trick-or-treaters have Polar Bears to worry about instead of things that go bump in the night, or watching tourists run from Elks in Estes Park, Colorado. But these instances are few and far between because there is pretty much something that will leave you with a new appreciation for the human species in every episode. Whether its tree houses being built 35 meters up, mining sulfur in an active volcano, stealing food from a pride of feeding Lions, and the list goes on. John Hurt’s narration goes a long way as well, as his almost scholarly delivery makes the episodes fly by.

Each episode ends with ten minutes of behind the scenes footage about the most difficult segment to shoot for the episode, and had they not put a “behind the lens” title before they start it would feel like just another segment, as these are also narrated by Hurt, except for the final one. There is a BD Live feature but unfortunately I couldn’t access it as I’m internet-less at the moment. The picture on this is absolutely gorgeous and makes the beautiful locations look even better. If you were a fan of either “Planet Earth” or “Life” this is another great documentary for you. If you haven’t I suggest you see them all.

DVD Special Features

  • Behind the Lens – A set of 10 ten-minute “making of” featurettes, one at the end of each episode plus two bonus featurettes!

Blu-Ray Special Features

  • Behind the Lens – A set of 10 ten-minute “making of” featurettes, one at the end of each episode plus two bonus featurettes!
  • Special BD-Live added feature “Zanskar,” about the people of this remarkable land on the edge of the Himilayas

“Human Planet” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from BBC Warner.