Monday, April 09, 2007

The Pastoral

A quick recommendation.

The Discovery Channel in conjunction with the BBC has, for the past three weeks on Sunday nights, been showing the 11 part series, Planet Earth, which documents the Earth's nature and wildlife from pole to pole with unheard of photography and unique footage, some of which, having never been filmed before. The first three episodes aired on March 25th followed by 2 episodes on April 1st and 2 episodes last night. The remaining 4 episodes will be split between Sundays April 14th and 21st. If you consider yourself a fan of nature and enjoy the beauty this planet has to offer you should definitely, if you haven't already, see this show.

From what I understand, the series has already aired on the BBC and was narrated by Sir David Attenborough (Richard's brother) while the U.S. version is narrated by Sigorney Weaver who has, so far, done an excellent job, in my opinion. The series is already available on DVD in the UK and the first three episodes are available in the U.S. from the Discovery Channel Store. On April 24th, the complete series will be released on standard DVD as well as high definition Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs which are already available for pre-order on sites like or for US$30.00 less than when they become available in stores.

I've been watching the episodes on Discovery HD Theater, the Discovery Channel's high definition counterpart (for those of you who didn't know), and I must admit that it is really amazing. I have been throughly astounded by each episode thus far and fully plan to buy the series in hi-def when they're released. Even though the series is amazing in any format, I'm sure, I must recommend that if you don't have a high definition television and you know someone who does, you should really consider paying them a visit this Sunday evening in order to fully experience the breathtaking moments.

It's important to remember that much of what is shown are environments that are slowly changing and will cease to exist before the end of some of our lifetimes. The habitat of the Polar Bear, for example, grows smaller each year bringing the bears closer and closer to the endangered species list and, possibly, extinction. It's perfectly conceivable that this series could, in 100 years, serve as a sad reminder of the beauty and wonder this planet once offered.

My title for this post refers to Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F major which was completed in 1808. This music has come to mind several times during the viewing of Planet Earth because of it's association with the movie Soylent Green. In the movie, our planet has become overpopulated and undernourished and there is no longer any natural beauty left in the world. Near the end of the film, one of the characters, Sol Roth (portrayed by Edward G. Robinson in his last film role), finally succumbs to his despair and relinquishes himself to a government euthanasia center. In these centers, as people are being peacefully put to death in private rooms, they are shown video of the world as it once was in all it's glory with lush forests, green and flowered meadows and abundant wildlife all under a beautiful blue sky - none of which exist any longer. As Sol is dying and watching the Earth-as-it-was, the video is accompanied by several pieces of music, one being Symphony No. 6. The symphony is known as the Pastoral Symphony and at it's first performance was entitled "Recollections of Country Life".


Chris said...

Have you ever seen the movie Silent Running?

It always makes me cry at the end.

John Taylor said...

hi chris
Silent Running has always been one of my favorite movies - I'm a big fan of Huey, Dewey and Louie. In fact, I often think of the movie during shows like Planet Earth. I don't own a copy because I'm hoping a restored version will be available at some point or maybe even a hi-def version. I'll keep you posted.