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Exploring the 'Human Planet'

7 Mar, 2011 By: John Latchem

After a number of nature programs focusing on the various environments and creatures of Earth, BBC has turned its attention toward the planet’s primary inhabitants: human beings.

The new multipart natural history documentary Human Planet explores how humanity has been able to adapt to and live in nearly every corner of our diverse world, connecting 80 stories across 70 locations. BBC Video releases Human Planet on DVD ($39.98) and Blu-ray ($49.98) April 26 (order date March 22), two days after the documentary concludes on the Discovery Channel.

“This is the first time the BBC natural history unit has turned its cameras on human behavior,” said Burton Cromer, EVP of consumer products for BBC Worldwide Americas.

Cromer said the extraordinary success of previous BBC Video releases such as Planet Earth and Life have raised the expectations for Human Planet, especially on Blu-ray.

“Even in its fourth year, Planet Earth was the fourth-bestselling TV show on Blu-ray last year, and Life was second,” Cromer said. “And among all Blu-ray titles of all time, first is Avatar, then The Dark Knight and then Planet Earth.”

Though Human Planet was not produced by the same team behind Planet Earth and Life, it is similar in structure and style, according to Cromer.
Human Planet is broken down into eight chapters, each exploring a different ecosystem: “Oceans,” “Deserts,” “Arctic,” “Jungles,” “Mountains,” “Grasslands,” “Rivers” and “Cities.” John Hurt provides the narration.

“This is about people living closest to nature, how they’ve accomplished that and the adjustments they’ve made to their lives,” Cromer said. “It’s spectacularly good looking and compelling storytelling.”

The production team spent four years chronicling a lot of behaviors many viewers will be surprised to learn about, Cromer said. For example, the “Rivers” episode depicts a tribe that has learned how to manipulate tree roots to essentially grow a bridge over a deep gorge.

However, Human Planet doesn’t hold back in depicting the variety of human societies for what they are.

“This isn’t about looking for a warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s about the harshness of the human experience,” Cromer said. “You will see humans interacting with nature in ways that aren’t always good for nature. There are a few scenes that might make people uncomfortable.”

The three-disc set will include the longer U.K. version. Extras include a series of 10-minute “Behind the Lens” making-of featurettes, as well as the BD Live feature Zanskar, about the people on the edge of the Himalayas.

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