Directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 118 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: June 5, 2009
Review Date: June 12, 2009
A cautionary environmental tongue-lashing disguised as a nature documentary, Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Home combines the expansive grandeur of Planet Earth with the severe censuring of human wastefulness found in something like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Home makes its points with effusive efficiency all the while showing the awesome beauty and majesty of our planet on the verge of global catastrophe. Effective but repetitive at almost two hours, Home certainly gives one pause.
Glenn Close narrates this combination natural science documentary and sociological treatise on mankind’s foolish abuse of the Earth for the last fifty years, and the combination of hauntingly beautiful images with the cold, hard facts of the homo sapiens’ careless disregard of the planet’s careful balance of nature is quickly established and understood. “Balance” is the key word in all of the film’s careful point making, a balance that took four billion years to get right and only fifty years to change almost inexorably. Writers Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Isabelle Delannoy present a series of startling facts to make their case clear: twenty per cent of the Earth’s population use eighty per cent of its natural resources, one-half of the world’s poor live in resource-wealthy areas, there are one billion people who go to bed hungry each day, there is basically ten years left for us to repair the damage of the last five decades.
And yet, it’s not all gloom and doom (though that is the mood that dominates the film’s tone and Close’s insistent narration). After presenting all of its facts firmly and fairly (with awe-inspiring photography to capture breathtaking images of particularly threatened areas and their inhabitants), the film concludes with a summary of its findings and then some of the ways man has begun to adapt and change for the better with some encouraging improvements noted. Obviously, much more needs to be done, but a start has been made; the film purports that it needs to continue even more concertedly.
Photography was done in over fifty countries to capture the good, the bad, and the ugly, and the camerawork is certainly the equal of anything in Planet Earth though, of course, it lacks that series’ overall diversity. The director’s famed aerial camerawork gives these birds’ eye views a stunning sumptuousness that’s quite hypnotic. Yes, New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas come in for a fair share of invective, but so do Shanghai, Dubai, and Lagos. No one is spared the rod of filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s painful strokes.
The film is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness, detail, and color richness are all exemplary as captured on these high definition video cameras. The “looking through a picture window” appearance is exactly what one would expect from this kind of natural science documentary. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is often very effective in combining Close’s narration in the center channel with the music from a variety of sources including grand opera and tribal chants that fills the surrounds (though occasionally opting just for the front channels). Some very effective use of the LFE channel is also notable.
There are no bonus features on this disc, not even a trailer for this film or other Fox releases.
If An Inconvenient Truth didn’t make the case strongly enough for global warming’s destructive path and the necessity for change, Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Home makes the point over and over again. It’s a beautifully filmed documentary that only suffers from the occasionally repetitive nature of its narrative. Picture and sound-wise, this one’s hard to beat.