With a year of shooting around the country some of the captured footage in this documentary really is remarkable and if you, or someone you know, loves birds then this is a real bonus. The beauty of this disc is the stunning detail that is delivered with the high definition format and the solid narration by Colin Friels.
Ultimately though, and despite the brilliance, this documentary still feels a little short. With a runtime of only 52 minutes 35 seconds (and not the 108 minutes as claimed on the packaging) there are still many birds that aren't covered, and some that feel a little short changed (such as the iconic galahs).
Australia Land of Parrots is presented on Blu-Ray at 1080i at 1.78:1 using the MPEG-2 codec. Now, before you groan about MPEG-2 we must point out that there have been some stunning releases using that compression algorithm, and this release has many breathtaking scenes.
Sadly where the issues come into this release it's the 1920 x 1080i format. The interlacing often gives a shimmering look, particularly when the image is a flyover of the landscape. It's quite noticeable, and quite annoying - even my parents picked that on quite easily and commented on it. When you're not flying over the landscape though the images are breathtakingly sharp and this release is vastly superior to the DVD release with the finest feathers and colours on the birds always evident.
Audio Commentary by Director and Cameraman David Parer: As someone who worked on almost every facet of this documentary he has plenty of interesting information about the birds, the filming and the release.
Producer and Director Discuss Production (7:37/HD): As the title suggest the producer and director of this documentary discuss the lengthy process of creating this film. Included in the discussions are the difficulty of filming the birds, getting international financing and selecting the best sequences.
Recording Foley Sound (6:06/HD): This is actually a very impressive featurette which shows just how little sound is actually recorded in the wild, with most, including the birds flying recorded in studios. You wouldn't really expect filmmakers to give away so much of this 'secret' but they must be commended for doing so.
Editor Discusses Picture Editing (5:10/HD): The editor discusses the difficulties of making images of birds into some form of narrative coherence.
Cameraman Filming From Aircraft (3:25/HD): A brief look at filming from aircraft above the land.
Twitchers Gallery By Sean Dooley (15:13/HD): Bird Watcher and Author Sean Dooley talks about his favourite birds viewed around Australia with video clips of what he saw. It offers a further look at more birds from the feature.
Review By: Dave Warner