Galapagos (BBC) (DVD)
The inspiration for Darwin's theory of evolution, the Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory, a geological conveyor belt that has given birth to and seen the death of many species of plants and animals. As the western islands rise up from the sea offering a chance of life, the eastern islands sink back beneath the waves guaranteeing only death. Between the two are the middle islands; fertile, lush land in its prime that contains an incredible diversity of life. Nowhere else on the Earth are the twin processes of creation and extinction of species so starkly apparent... see it all unfold before your eyes in this stunning series filmed entirely in high definition from the BBC and the National Geographic Channel.
]]> While its title may be superfluous, Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
is a beautifully filmed journey into "the islands of the tortoise." Located due west of Ecuador, the Galapagos islands are full of gorgeous scenery and exotic wildlife. And this 150-minute documentary shows it all, thanks to stunning cinematography shot from all viewpoints--the air, sea and, of course, land. The collection is both soothing and exhilarating as it allows viewers to peek in on mating albatrosses (which are monogamous), penguins fishing, and surprisingly graceful giant tortoises swimming in the ocean. The filmmakers also manage to capture a ferocious volcanic eruption that is amazing in its clarity. The problem with many documentaries lies in the narration. A documentary filmmaker hits the jackpot when he is able to get someone like Sigourney Weaver, whose crisp narration fits in beautifully with the sweeping footage in Planet Earth
. While Tilda Swanton lends a relaxing quality to Galapagos
, her voice at times is a bit too lulling to hold the viewer's interest. The writing also borders on melodramatic, with talk of the simmering sea and such. With visuals as stunning as this, hyperbole is unnecessary. Charles Darwin has described the Galapagos as a world within itself, and it is said that the islands were one of his inspirations for his book The Origin of Species
. While the film doesn't clearly explain why the Galapagos are unlike any other place on earth, it does showcase a destination that is unlike what most of us know. --Jae-Ha Kim