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Movie Review Friday: BBC's "How the Earth Changed History"

Posted Aug 19 2010 5:39pm

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD . Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

How the Earth Changed History (2010)

This five-part series, a collaboration between BBC and the National Geographic Channel , comes together to form an all-encompassing documentary that examines how humans have been affected by natural forces throughout history. Each hour-long segment focuses on an aspect of Earth: water, wind, fire, and deep earth. The fifth episode addresses how people are now a fundamental element of the planet.

The camerawork is stunning, treating viewers to dramatic views of every continent to show how history has been changed by geology, geography, and climate. The narrator, Iain Stewart, a Scottish geologist and professor, is charismatic, competent, and downright hilarious at times. He climbs a rock face, bathes in oil, flies in an open aircraft, sails around Pacific islands, walks into a furnace, and lowers himself into the depths of the earth, all while providing attention-grabbing commentary.

After telling us that it would take 3 million years for the earth to make enough oil for just one year's worth of our consumption, Stewart calls the present a “turning point in human history,” highlighting the need to break the link between human progress and burning fuel sources that emit carbon. He concludes on a hopeful note with a visit to the global seed vault, which is built deep enough to survive even a nuclear explosion; Stewart calls the vault an example of what can be achieved when humans cooperate.

--Kristin Baldwin

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