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Author Topic: Life
Lyrhawn
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I just saw a preview for this the other day on Animal Planet while I was watching "Wild Russia," which I'd recommend to nature documentary lovers, by the way. It was excellent. Who knew the Kamchatka Peninsula had so much pretty stuff to look at?

Anyway, "Life" is a sort of sequel to the highly acclaimed "Planet Earth" series. Much like Planet Earth, they had a huge budget, and spent years filming it, but this time they had even better techniques and technology to do so. It's an eleven part series, which is also like Planet Earth, only instead of various environs, it focuses on different types of life, so we get episodes on Mammals, Insects and Fish, rather than Forests, Rivers and Oceans, so to speak. It's already aired in Britain, so I'm wondering if any of our British Hatrackers have seen it and what they thought, and I'm wondering if fans of Planet Earth plan to watch it when it airs in the United States in March.

In the US version, it will be narrated by Oprah Winfry. I can't say I'm a fan of that. I really liked David Attenborough in Planet Earth. Honestly if they were going to replace him with an American, I think it should have been Morgan Freeman. James Earl Jones probably seems like the best in big name narration that America has to offer, but I thought Freeman was very compelling in March of the Penguins. Last I checked, Amazon doesn't even sell the American version of Planet Earth with Sigourney Weaver anymore, they only sell the UK version.

My aunt just loaned me the blu-ray disc with the first couple episodes of Planet Earth on it. I'd seen bits and pieces on tv before, but never in HD. I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to Life. I'm planning on a little shopping spree when my income tax comes in, and I think Planet Earth will be on my list. I'm thinking about picking up Battlestar Galactica too, as it appears to be on sale at the moment. At least, I can't remember seeing it this cheap before, but I can't decide between the blu-ray and the regular DVD version of it.

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Clive Candy
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There's two things wrong with this: Why not just air the British version?

And second: Good God, Oprah Winfrey?

It's the same thing producers of animated movies have been increasingly doing the past 20 years: Hiring voice talent based on the recognition of the actor rather than their talent. They even stooped so low as to hire Shia Lebouf for one of those penguin movies.

But what can you do.

[ January 31, 2010, 03:34 PM: Message edited by: Clive Candy ]

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Bella Bee
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Aw. I like Oprah (who doesn't? - except Clive), but David Attenborough is the absolute master. He's been narrating nature shows for more than 50 years.
I don't really get why you'd need to swap him - it's not like he has an accent which is difficult to understand.

Since I moved, I really miss British TV. I'll have to catch this on DVD - I bet it's beautiful.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:


In the US version, it will be narrated by Oprah Winfry. I can't say I'm a fan of that. I really liked David Attenborough in Planet Earth. Honestly if they were going to replace him with an American, I think it should have been Morgan Freeman. James Earl Jones probably seems like the best in big name narration that America has to offer, but I thought Freeman was very compelling in March of the Penguins.

If you're talking strictly black guys, I would go with Avery Brooks. He narrates the Walking with Dinosaurs series, and I thought he did a pretty good job.

Still though, the re-dubbing thing really drives me crazy. Attenborough's voice is really good, and he has a long history with these shows. Are there actual consumer studies or tests that prove that Americans respond badly or not as well to a British voice? Because if not, I think the notion is pretty dubious.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Bella Bee:
Aw. I like Oprah (who doesn't? - except Clive)

Artistically, intellectually and philosophically I despise her work. She represents quite vividly a great deal of what is wrong with our society, in my opinion, whether we're talking about her rampant narcissism, anti-intellectual crusades for cynical "positivity" philosophies, or just the generally mediocre to poor quality of the schlock she is willing to sell to the American public in the form of her own personage, publications, shows, and endorsements, I have very few positive things to say about her. I am frustrated that the orthodoxy in American culture is to laud her for her success, when the things she has become successful doing are so damaging.
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Raymond Arnold
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I haven't really paid attention to Oprah at all, but the vague sound bites I've heard hadn't struck me as particularly damaging, even if they weren't particularly useful either.
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Scott R
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quote:
Artistically, intellectually and philosophically I despise her work.
Obviously.

quote:
anti-intellectual crusades for cynical "positivity" philosophies,
Er...what does this mean?

quote:
just the generally mediocre to poor quality of the schlock she is willing to sell to the American public in the form of her own personage, publications, shows, and endorsements,
Have you read any of the books she endorses through Oprah's book club?

I really enjoyed Where the Heart Is; I found it had just the right mix of artistry, pain, beauty and truth.

And I can't really complain about any media personality that puts Cry, The Beloved Country out there for more people to read. (Though, I have to wonder: what was she thinking in 2005, by including As I Lay Dying? Bleh.)

I really have to disagree that she endorses mediocre work-- have you seen the list of all her Oprah book club books? Some of it is light fare-- Bill Cosby's listed 3 times, for example; but some of it isn't exactly pulp. Here's the list

I dunno, Orincoro. I'm no fan, but the woman doesn't appear to me to be endorsing pablum.

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The White Whale
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I have managed to see most of this, and it is as incredible as Planet Earth. It is organized around Life, and all the challenges therein (i.e. Birds, Fish, Hunters and Hunted, etc.), while Planet Earth used specific environments as it's organizational tool (Deserts, Oceans, etc). And David Attenborough is one of my heros. He is as good as ever.

And I have the BlueRay Planet Earth, and can vouch for its superiority over the DVD (given you have HD capabilities).

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Lyrhawn
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Thanks White Whale. Now I'm even more excited for it.

I especially want to see the one on insects. I love watching specials on ants.

I read that when they were filming the one on mammals, they spent weeks trying to get a video of a golden eagle taking down a reindeer, as professors somewhere in Scandinavia suspected for a long time that they did so, but they'd never actually seen it. Well they finally got it on video, and it was amazing, but not high quality enough to put in the show. I'll bet a lot of great stuff was left on the cutting room floor.

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The White Whale
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I agree. I hope someday they release the full tapes as raw footage to the public. I imagine it is available to those who study these animals, but not particularly interesting to someone looking for awesome shots.

I know, for instance, during the Planet Earth shoot, the camera man spent over 20 days in his hide filming one particular bird (one Bird of Paradise, I think) before he got the behavior he was looking for. I doubt they deleted the footage after they were done for the day.

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Kwea
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I can't wait to see this, Jenni and I just saw a trailer for it.

I am not an Oprah fan, but I don't agree with most of Ori's assessment. I think she likes to emphasize the positive, and a lot of the Dr. Phil crap is just a waste of time, but she has worked very hard to get where she is, and I think she has been by far a net positive in the world.

She's made more of an impact than any of us have had, and a far more positive impact than most people.

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Lyrhawn
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I don't imagine I'd be interested in watching unedited footage, not unless I was actually studying the animal in question. But, I'm betting they could do another multi-part special with the material that's left. It might not be as spectacular, but I bet it'd be just as good or better than any regular documentary.

Oh, and as for the narration thing. I wasn't just talking about black narrators, but it does seem like some of the most distinctive, expressive voices in our culture happen to be black. I imagine there are white voice actors that would be just as impressive (Leonard Nemoy comes to mind, and I know Orson Wells had an impressive voice as well). I bet Avery Brooks would be quite good as well. I've never heard him narrate, but he was great on DS9.

I have nothing against Oprah, I just think Attenborough is better.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
I'm no fan, but the woman doesn't appear to me to be endorsing pablum.

Agreed.
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I have nothing against Oprah, I just think Attenborough is better.

Also agreed.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:

I dunno, Orincoro. I'm no fan, but the woman doesn't appear to me to be endorsing pablum.

I disagree.
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Lyrhawn
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This starts (started) tonight. They're doing reruns all night long. The first and second episodes were tonight. I'm watching the reruns in HD right now. Looks good so far! Oprah isn't bad, but she's no David Attenborough.
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Kwea
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I can't wait to see this, and Jenni is just as excited as I am about it.
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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I never got the feeling that Attenborough was reading from a script. Winfrey definitely had that issue; the intonation was all over the place, and the script itself was a little uneven. Some of the footage was stunning, though, and I didn't have any problems with the structure. And Oprah wasn't actively annoying, except on the rare occasion that her intonation pulled me right out of the show.

EDIT: Oh, and Planet Earth on Blu-ray with a good sound system is absolutely sublime.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
[qb]

If you're talking strictly black guys, I would go with Avery Brooks. He narrates the Walking with Dinosaurs series, and I thought he did a pretty good job.

Still though, the re-dubbing thing really drives me crazy. Attenborough's voice is really good, and he has a long history with these shows. Are there actual consumer studies or tests that prove that Americans respond badly or not as well to a British voice? Because if not, I think the notion is pretty dubious.

Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones all the way for me.
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Lyrhawn
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George Clooney would probably be good too. Leonardo DiCaprio is narrating the IMAX NASA 3D movie about Hubble that is out soon, or currently, I can't remember its release date.
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Carrie
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I think Tom Cruise did one of the IMAX NASA movies, when I was there a few years ago. Honestly, I didn't even notice his voice, because I was way more interested in the beauty of the images and the awesome space stuff in the film.

I'd probably notice Oprah. I find her voice particularly unappealing.

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Sala
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The Hubble 3D movie is out now. I saw it on Saturday at a special preview. It is AMAZING!!!!! I was totally in awe over the moving shots through space, into nebulas and galaxies. I highly recommend it.
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