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August 4, 2011
Mountain Gorilla Blu-Ray Review
TV Air Date Blu-Ray Release Distributor Narrator
20107/7/2011Village RoadshowPatrick Stewart
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Linear PCM 2.0GNature!

Gorillas are one of the most loved animals around the globe despite being unfairly painted as evil creatures in films such as King Kong. In reality they are highly sophisticated, family-oriented creatures that have been studied for decade and the Mountain Gorilla variety of which this documentary focuses, are currently listed as critically endangered with around 700 remaining around the globe (there are around 5,000 of their close relatives, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla).

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Mountain Gorilla is a brilliant BBC documentary.
The three-part BBC documentary Mountain Gorilla gives and insight into the lives of the animal discovered only a century ago. A small number of families cling to existence on the forested peaks of isolated volcanoes in three war-torn countries, surrounded on all sides by a growing human population. Using exclusive access and the latest technology, as well as teams of vets, rangers, researchers and conservationists, this documentary seeks to understand more about the lives, the history and the uncertain future of this charismatic species. So let's have a look at each of the three episodes...

  • 1. Kingdom in the Clouds: This first episode takes a look at two of the main gorilla groups remaining in the wild - those in Rwanda's Virunga National Park and Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Also explored is the way in which humans are trying to save the species from poachers. There really is a wonderful, tense, sequence when the anti-poaching squad attempts to free a gorilla from a rope snare.

  • 2. Last Stand of the Silverback King: This second episode focuses on the struggles of the large male Silverback gorillas. With power comes dominance, and the right to breed with the females and this episode looks at the 35 year old Titus, the oldest known Silverback in the world, and his struggles to remain to top of the pack.

  • 3. Safe In Our Hands: This third and final episode in Mountain Gorilla looks at the efforts humans are going to to save the species from extinction including the hand raising of two orphans and how humans are slowly destroying their habitat for farms.

This really is a gorgeous series which looks at one of the most endangered species on the planet. With a runtime of three hours there is enough here to get a good insight into the lives of the animals themselves, as well as the many humans trying to save the last few remaining colonies.

As with all BBC documentaries that we've seen to date this release is presented in 1920 x 1080i resolution, while the film is interlaced, it's not overly evident throguhout, although we did notice some shimmering on some scenes. Talking from a statistical standpoint the AVC MPEG-4 transfer often hovers above 30Mbps according to our PS3's statistics. The amount of detail in this release is striking. The fur-covered gorillas look sensational, and the jungles a lush, green colour. It's even possible to see the smallest flies buzzing around the gorillas in the shots. There are some instances where the filmmakers have used older, lower quality, footage from the past - including scenes of Dian Fossey and slaughtered gorillas from 2007 for instance - but the newer footage is simply gorgeous.

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So, so cute...
Mountain Gorilla is presented on Blu-Ray with a Linear PCM 2.0 audio track encoded at 1.5Mpbs. It's a little disappointing not to have surround sound on this release, but the audio in this documentary series is crystal clear with some gorgeous clarity to the gorilla's as well as ambient jungle sounds. Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard from Star Trek) has one of clearest, soothing voices for the narration in this documentary.

There are no additional audio tracks on this disc but there is a single English subtitle track which is accurate to the narration and dialogue within the documentaries.

Sadly there are absolutely no extras available on this Blu-Ray set, no commentaries, no photo galleries, no additional footage.

Mountain Gorilla is such a beautiful, concise documenatary which shows off this most critically endangered species at their best, and worst. Cinematography is, as with most BBC documentaries, quite astounding, and we highly recommend this series.

Review By: Dave Warner


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