Antarctica is the wildest, coldest, most isolated continent on Earth. Encrusted in 90% of the world's ice, its 5.4 million square miles are doubled each winter by the freezing of the seas. The average temperature at the South Pole is -56, dropping to -90 and below in mid-winter. Yet this inhospitable landscape is home to a surprisingly rich variety of wildlife. Natural history guru David Attenborough and his camera team spent three years braving mountainous seas, blizzards with 100 mph winds, plummeting temperatures and glaciers the size of cathedrals to capture the majesty of Antarctica both on land and underwater. In this starkly beautiful landscape, they discover penguins by the millions, whales by the thousands, half the world's seal population and seabirds galore.
Life in the Freezer
is a startling portrait of Antarctica as a dramatic, violent, yet ultimately poetic ecosystem. It's also a miraculously beautiful documentary that can stir an armchair adventurer, make one wish to be standing alongside host David Attenborough as he gazes at the dream-like enormity of glaciers ("glass-yeers," as Attenborough pronounces it) or visits one of the pristine, Georgian islands where seabirds flock during Antarctica's version of spring and summer. With its frozen mass subject to cyclical expansions and retractions, Antarctica's changes determine the feeding, mating, and habitat patterns of a wide variety of wildlife. Life in the Freezer
's multi-episode format allows each of those changes to be explored in rich detail. Attenborough demonstrates why certain birds migrate to Antarctica at the same time that humpback and killer whales show up to feed on swarms of shrimp-like krill. In some of the most amazing footage in the series, bull elephant seals appear on Antarctica's shores to manage their harems, mate as often as possible, and brutally fight to keep competitors away. As for penguins: they march, they partner up, they stand still in sub-zero snowstorms. But they also end up as seal prey (a darkly comic sight) and vault through sea waves like mythic heroes. This 1993 series is something special, easily surpassing March of the Penguins
as a vision of life in the harshest environment on Earth. --Tom Keogh