DVD review: Frozen Planet

When I was in elementary school, my favorite days were the "movie days" when we got to watch nature films. I was equally delighted and educated by the scenic stories of beavers building dams, otters floating on their backs and breaking open shells on their bellies, rams and sheep battling one another in shows of strength and masculinity. So breathtaking were those breaks from everyday lessons.

Watching Frozen Planet—the epic three-disc series from BBC Earth, makers of Planet Earth—reminds me of those long-ago moments in a dark classroom learning of animals and insects and environments I'd surely never experience first hand.

As a kid, my main take away of the nature films was "Wow!". As an adult, I have a far larger vocabulary and more adjectives for the experience. Still, "Wow!" is the first to come to mind when watch Frozen Planet. Others: Spectacular. Riveting. Astonishing. Thought-provoking. Extraordinary.

I love this series. The show premiered on the Discovery Channel in March, but having no cable, I didn't watch it on TV and was thrilled to have been provided the DVD for free to review. Together Jim and I marveled at the amazing photography in the seven-part series narrated by the legendary and brilliant Sir David Attenborough.

Highlights? Sheesh...I don't even know where to begin. Filmed at the North Pole and the South Pole, teams of photographers captured footage of seasonal changes that continually astonished. Soaring birds and whales. Penguins humorously flying through ocean waves (and waddling obliviously around the film makers on the beach). A caterpillar that goes through fourteen years of freezing each winter then thawing each spring before finally metamorphosing. Undersea animals that look like Dr. Seuss characters. A mother polar bear and her two cubs and how they survive through the seasons of change. And that's just the tip of the figurative iceberg. (There's no shortage of real icebergs throughout the series).

The groundbreaking series also focuses on the land and sea and all the changes between ice forming and melting in the North Pole and South Pole regions. There's also much mention of what the changes in the Arctic Ocean mean not only for the animals but for the humans who live there and the countries scrambling to stake their claim in new oil-drilling opportunities available thanks to formerly ice-covered regions warming twice as fast as the rest of the Earth.

One of my biggest questions from the outset, when I first put in the first DVD, was How in the world do the photographers manage to capture such things? Thanks to the seven "making of" featurettes and 47 (yes, forty seven) videos in the Production Video Diaries, I no longer wonder, only applaud their amazingly successful efforts. Other bonus features include a feature on scientific exploration in the South Pole, a music-only viewing option, and more.

What I loved about the DVD series: Frozen Planet is a series that all ages will enjoy again and again. There's so much information and extraordinary imagery that I can't imagine ever tiring of watching.

Earth Day is April 22 and though it isn't typically a day that folks exchange gifts, Frozen Planet is the perfect gift for the occasion—for yourself and others. It arrives on shelves just in time, on April 17, retailing for $39.98 DVD and $54.98 Blu-ray. For more information, visit BBC Earth.