Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth takes a spectacular look at the circle of life

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 12:11 PM

click to enlarge ICE CAPADES: A polar bear struggles to survive in its changing environment.
  • ICE CAPADES: A polar bear struggles to survive in its changing environment.

A polar bear treading water — the ice floes having melted out from under him — has become the poster boy of the movement against global climate change. The documentary Earth features a poignant extended sequence involving a polar bear “dad” in precisely such a plight. He's been driven to extreme measures to find food because global warming, the film suggests, has wreaked havoc on his habitat. Bereft polar bears may be more effective at melting audience’s hearts than former Vice President and global warming opponent Al Gore.

Climate change provides a recurring theme in Earth, but the slick, spectacular documentary is no environmental screed. Based on the documentary TV series “Planet Earth,” the film primarily drinks in the splendors of Earth’s unspoiled landscapes and follows the exploits of various adorable animals. Earth conveys the environment's preciousness and fragility without preaching to its viewers.

Globe-trotting directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield present sequences at both poles, Africa, the South American rain forest and in the ocean. They primarily follow mammals — especially the ones with cute calves, cubs or pups — allowing for easy audience identification. In one of the subplots, a whale mother and offspring migrate across half an ocean to feed on krill in the Antarctic. How the whale hunt provides an interesting detail, accompanied by triumphant music, but it’s probably not so great for the krill. (Screw the krill!)

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(Photo courtesy Disney Nature)

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