Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: Africa

Visually Stunning Africa from Discovery/BBC Team

The very best thing about Discovery's seven-part nature series Africa, a co-production from the Discovery/BBC team that created Life, is that it doesn't try too hard. Its producers just let the amazing footage stand on its own.

Rather than bog down the series with too much hype and distracting celebrity narrators like Oprah Winfrey on Life and Alec Baldwin on Frozen Planet, Africa is pared down to its one key ingredient: camera work that took the Africa team to 27 countries over a four-year stretch. They used 21 different types of cameras and shot 2,000 hours of footage.

The result is a seven-part series kicking off on Tuesday at 10pm that will just leave you in awe.

Tonight, Africa premieres with Kalahari, an up-close view of the animals that survive in one of Africa's most inhospitable deserts.

It begins with two huge, heavy and incredibly strong male giraffes viciously fighting to claim a small stretch of water in the Kalahari's vast stretches of waterless desert. The cameras capture the scene in what can only be described as stunningly clear, sometimes slow-mo images.

Africa then zooms over vast, gorgeous deserts to witness animals, big and very small, as they survive against all odds of survival.

On Africa, the narration (at least on the review DVD) is simple and the documentary's producers aren't afraid to be quiet, including with gaps that a less confident team would fill up with sound.

Africa doesn't cover too much "for the first time ever" ground. But that's OK. Just sit back and be stunned by the wonder of Africa's visuals.

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