"authoritative narration by Kenneth Branagh"
"entertaining and educational material"
"typical BBC documentary - brilliant"
Walking with Dinosaurs
Advanced techniques are used to create real and
natural images as the one hundred and sixty million-year history of
dinosaurs is explored.
Walking with Dinosaurs, which must have surprised
even its makers by reaching the viewing figures usually reserved for royal
weddings, was the undoubted television event of 1999. (The companion book
album became bestsellers, too.) Extending the computer animation
techniques developed for Jurassic Park (1993) these six 30-minute
programmes became the first blockbuster
special-effects documentary. Here was natural history with a difference,
recreating "the lost world" of the Cretaceous and Mesozoic with modern
technology, the remarkable visuals enabling the programme-makers to show
what life may have been like during the estimated 160 million years "when
dinosaurs ruled the Earth".
As well as the dinosaurs, the series investigates the plants, insects,
climate and geography of the distant past, and considers the mystery of
why the creatures became extinct so suddenly. There has been some argument
over how much is scientific fact, and how much is entertaining speculation
- after all, Life on Earth (1978) and
The Living Planet (1984) had the advantage of living subjects to
film - but for
the moment this series must stand as the definitive visual chronicle of
the life and times of the fascinating "terrible lizards". A year later the
BBC followed this with the surprisingly sympathetic The Ballad of Big
Al (about a youthful Allosaurus), before the equally ambitious, and
equally enthralling Walking With Beasts.
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