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March 16, 2010
Home Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
26/8/20041/3/2010UniversalYann Arthus-Bertrand
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Narration
VC-1DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1GGlenn Close

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Planet Earth is in serious trouble...

Out Planet Is Dying.

I have no hesitation in saying that and, sadly, I have no hesitation in believing it either. Now French filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who previously worked on Earth from Above, and producer Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) have turned in his latest documentary which looks at our planet earth and the massive amount of destruction we have done in the last couple of generations compared to millions of years prior to where we stand now. So here's the full summary...

In 200,000 years, humans have disrupted the fragile balance on which Earth was living for 4 billion years. Global warming, shortage of resources, endangered species: humans are jeopardizing their own living conditions. By the end of the century, the relentless consumption will have exhausted almost all of our planet’s natural resources. But it is too late to be pessimistic: we have barely 10 years left to reverse the trend. We need to become aware of our abusive exploitation of Earth's gifts and change our way of life. By giving us these previously unreleased images of over 50 countries as seen from the sky, and by sharing his wonder but also his worry, Yann Arthus-Bertrand contributes to the rebuilding we all need to start doing together.

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Looking for water in a well in India.
Throughout my life I have always been fascinated with nature and the planet Earth. To see this documentary and the absolutely horrifying facts it contains is a real eye-opener, even for people that have some understanding of the issues the planet faces. Consider these facts "1 Billion people are going hungry", "80% of the glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro have disappeared", "The world spends twelve times more on weapons then aid to developing countries", “Every week 2 coal-fired power plants come online in China” or "The ice cap has lost 40% of its thickness in 40 years". They are horrifying facts which are illustrated through the stunning visuals in this documentary.

Indeed filming Home took 217 days and saw the filmmakers visiting 54 countries to capture hundreds of hours of footage from the air using a Gyro-Stabilized Cineflex HD cameras. This is an epic production with almost all the shots in the film taken from the air giving an almost off-planet viewpoint/feel to the film.

If there is one complaint to be leveled at this film it that it feels a little too "preachy". I understand that the filmmaker was intending to inform, and shock, but I did feel that there was a little too much in this regard and not enough factual evidence to back up the statements that "Planet Earth is dying" despite the near certainty that it is. As for the fact that are included, I would have loved to see them contain a little more detail and information. If it won't fit in the feature film, surely an extended version through seamless branching, or extra featurettes on the disc would have worked - but they aren't present.

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Greenhouses in San Augustin, Spain.
To be honest I'm not sure if this is a movie which is worth spending money on, it's not quite up there with the BBC's wonderful Planet Earth but where that documentary shows us the many wonders of flora and fauna on our planet, Home focuses on the destruction we are doing, so both documentaries actually complement each other quite well.

This is an interesting release in that the film was actually released for free on the internet via Youtube (you can see it here) and other sources and doesn't contain any copyright. So why then buy it on Blu-Ray? Well there is one massive reason - the stunning, gorgeous, visuals.

As with all Blu-Ray releases the video is presented at 1920 x 1080 resolution however, somewhat disappointingly, this release is interlaced (so 1080i). Have a look as the video zooms in on the pedestrian crossing from 1:07:37 and you will see some shimmering associated with the interlaced encoding. We've read some reports that the American release of this Blu-Ray presents the film at 1080p. Still the VC-1 codec used handles the footage extremely well and the transfer has been given ample room to breathe with a bitrate that fluctuates between 15Mbps and 30Mbps for the most part.

It's fair to say that the cinematography is among the best we have ever seen and if you have a large HDTV, or better still a projector screen, be prepared to be blown away with the visuals on offer from lush green jungles, to icy blue waters and harsh red desert sands.

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Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park.
Perhaps even more so then the visuals, the audio is another reason to upgrade to this disc. Home is presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (24-bit/48Khz) and it really is a treat for your years. The narration by Glenn Close is clear and easy to understand while the music from composer Armand Amar brilliantly reflects the various locations seen in the film, as well as the current tone of the storyline while never becoming intrusive on the feature film.

The only other audio track on this disc is a French DTS-HD Master Audio track (16-bit/48Khz) which despite the lower bitrate still sounds extremely impressive. Subtitles are provide in English, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish. We sampled the English track for short periods of time throughout the movie and it was accurate to the narration.

In what has to be the most disappointing aspect of this release there are absolutely no extras at all. Why not provide us with more facts, behind the scenes, or clips that were edited out. Sure, I realise that the filmmakers didn't make this for profit, but Universal are certainly making some money. Disappointing.

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Boasts in the Port of Mopti, Niger River.
Asking to shell out the $39.95 price tag for this Blu-Ray is a little steep given this documentary, in its entirety, is free online. Having said that the audio and visual presentation is simply superb so if you have a big HDTV or projector you really need to see the Blu-Ray version. One can't help but feel though that some extra features, commentaries or interactive maps may have lessened the financial hit.

Despite all that I believe that this movie, Home is essential viewing for all consumers on the planet - that's every single one of us.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.