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Africa (Blu-ray Review)

24 Feb, 2013 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Street 2/26/13
$24.98 three-DVD set, $34.98 two-BD set
Not rated.
Narrated by David Attenborough.

With just the right blend of suspense and heartwarming imagery, the stories of wildlife presented in the seven-part documentary Africa are captivating, to say the least.

Africa gets off to a thrilling start with its “Kalahari” segment that chronicles an intense battle between an older giraffe bull and a younger challenger over a female and ownership over a highly coveted habitat. The narrator gives a play by play, as the giraffes take turns striking each other in a most unusual neck-and-neck clash.

The story turns somber in the drought-plagued “Savannah,” where a mother elephant struggles to sustain her weak calf. In a recap of the episode, a misty-eyed cameraman reveals the anguish of seeing the baby elephant take its final breath and the internal struggle of wanting to save its life but not having the means to do so.

The “Cape” segment opens with an intriguing tale of survival, as hundreds of sea turtle hatchlings make the risky trek from sand to sea. But one by one, crows and kites swoop in and make lunch out of some unlucky crawlers. Only one in 1,000 turtles will make it to adulthood. These aren’t the only creatures with tough odds stacked against them.

While the wildlife takes center stage throughout the series, the final chapter, “The Future,” captures the human influence. Poaching is a very real problem on the continent; however, there are unsung heroes who protect the animals, whether it be the Maasai breaking cultural traditions to defend rather than hunt lions, or vets watching over mountain gorillas.

Africa shows a different side of the continent and is a journey worth taking. The series also boasts an enchanting score. For example, “Waltz of the Flowers” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite plays as young springbok gazelles leap for joy in fields of grass.

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