Friday, July 23, 2010

Planet Earth in the Park!

Last Wednesday, Planet Earth Live played in the Pritzker Pavilion. Planet Earth is a 2006 BBC documentary, the most in-depth, expensive nature documentary ever made. It took 5 years to shoot with over 1000 days worth of time in the field. They were able to document animals and locations never before seen on film. For example, after 7 months (literally 7 months!) of trying to find a snow leopard in the mountains of Pakistan they got the first ever footage of a mother and her cub. They even got the mother hunting, chasing down a deer-like animal. 7 months! One film guy was out there for 3 months, didn't get anything, a second went for 4 months and got some footage on the last day!

The point is, this documentary has some amazing, breathtaking, never-before-seen footage of the natural world that no one should miss. It is narrated by David Attenborough, who also narrated 'Life of Mammals' and other great nature films. I would highly recommend buying the series (Adam and I have watched our copy at least 7 times), but you can also rent it on Netflix. One in 30 American households owns the DVD series, so if you don't have it, you are behind the curve, my friend.

So, given that this is my favorite documentary series of all time, you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out they were playing a show at the Pritzker Pavilion! The show is called Planet Earth life and Chicago was its 3rd of only 6 stops on its Summer Tour. The show is in LA this weekend and Philadelphia later in the month so those who live in those towns should drop what they are doing and find a way to attend the shows! It is really a not-to-be-missed experience.

The show consists of a huge movie screen that shows select footage from the documentary series, and the score of the show is played live by the professional orchestra from that particular town. So, for us, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played the score which was composed and conducted by Emmy Award winning composer, George Fenton . Before each of the show's 13 segments, Mr. Fenton described some of the behind-the-scenes stories as well as his thoughts on composing for each section. A couple of my favorite segments were:

"First Steps" : This segment showed two baby polar bears emerging from hibernation to take their first steps as well as a few Mallard ducks taking their first nose dives from their nests to the ground. Super cute and the music matched very well.

"Snow Leopard": As mentioned above, the snow leopard is super rare, super endangered, and super hard to catch on film and I am excited every time I see the footage.

"Journey to the Okavango": This segment follows the migration of an elephant herd from the desert to the Okavango delta, an amazing seasonal swampland in Botswana with a huge diversity of animals during the wet season including elephants, zebras, water buffalo, hippos, etc. The delta is so large that you can see it from space. The area is on my "Top 10 places I need to see" list.

The live music really added to the viewing experience. Watching the footage with live music from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, outdoors on a beautiful summer night, w/ some good wine, listening to the live cicadas during the intermission--> it made for my favorite night of the summer thus far!

Here are some pics from the documentary. They don't come close to doing the show justice, but are still fun to look at!


"Ice Worlds"

"Ice Worlds"



"Deep Oceans"


"Shallow Seas"



"Great Plains"

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