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Life in the Freezer
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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 thethousands half the world's seal population and seabirds galore.Running Time: 174 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DOCUMENTARIES/MISC. UPC: 794051247629 Manufacturer No: E2476
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
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how harsh a life they lived .They are beautiful creatures,that God made
and God knew he equipped them to handle it !
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
LIFE IN THE FREEZER examines life in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. Necessarily, this mostly involves pinnipeds and birds but he makes an effort to give a broad survey of life in all of its diversity ranging from lichens to great whales and humans. What controls the lives of every organism in this hellish environment is the ice. The yearly cycle of the ice retreating and advancing controls everything from feeding to mating to watching feeding and mating. It is a harsh environment and, again, the footage is superb.
The DVD consists of a miniseries of 6 half hour episodes. Each has a central theme and is presented below:
The Bountiful Sea -This episode takes place mostly north of the permanent ice but starts off with an explanation of how ice controls everything. From there, the food chain is examined and, in the Antarctic, that almost always leads back to the organism called krill. Almost everything eats it or eats something else that has eaten it. After review the basics, the action moves north to South Georgia Island which lies above the permanent ice. The birds examined in this one are able to get ashore whenever they like. The primary foci are humpback whales, krill, wandering albatross and King penguins.
The Ice Retreats - Each year, the ice retreats south and this allows most of the wildlife to begin its mating cycles. Even species that are mostly marine need land for mating and real estate is at a premium as are females. Everyone is in a hurry to get started with the business of mating because there is limited time before the ice returns and the rearing needs to be completed before it does. Much of this episode also takes place in the sub-Antarctic but it moves from there to the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Race to Breed - For a species to succeed, it must be able to reproduce. This is no easy matter in any environment but the rigors of the polar environment just add to the difficulty. The various species have differing individual strategies but they almost all have one thing in common: Beat the Ice. In addition to fur seals, chinstrap penguins, and leopard seals, the lives of insects, crustaceans and plants are examined.
The Door Closes - As winter gets closer, the wildlife in the Antarctic has to prepare for the long and cold times ahead. The last of the kids have to be made somewhat self sufficient and everyone has to get where there will be adequate food and shelter. For most species, this means moving north for a change of habitat and behavior. The ones who lag behind are apt to face dire consequences.
The Big Freeze - Winter is the big challenge for all life in the extreme south. Most species head further north but two have adapted to live out the worst of the cold on the continent itself. Weddel seals pup and then organize themselves to keep breathing holes open in the ice. They stay the course along the edge of the continent. Emperor Penguins do one step further. They actually hatch their eggs during the worst of it and have adapted a strategy to survive. I suppose it helps that there are no predators around with which they have to worry.
Footsteps in the Snow - Man is a latecomer to the far south. This episode goes over some very brief points of the original explorations and then examines how man has had to adapt to live and work down there. It also provides some fascinating footage on how this documentary series was shot and assembled. Although it is light on the natural history aspect of things, it is no less interesting.
These movies are so realistically and clearly presented that you need a blanket to curl up in while watching Attenborough walk around in freezing Antarctica filming all kinds of creatures - on land, under water and in the air. The guy (and his camera team) are simply unbelievable.
They spent three years filming these scenes. As anyone who has experienced anything colder than freezing can attest to, spending even a few minutes outside on a cold day can be daunting. But to spend all your time in temperatures of 74 below, with winds of upto 120 miles per hour - that is either sheer determination or insanity, or maybe a mix of both.
Whatever, the result is startling movies that are breathtaking, superbly shot, and extremely well-presented. I have watched most of Attenborough's films and they are all top-notch. He is definitely the world's most amazing wildlife and nature filmmaker ever. He presents everything as is, without sentimentality, but with a clear sense of wonder at all the marvels he is depicting. When he speaks and shows you scenes, you feel you are there.
Hands down one of the top three wildlife films I have ever seen. Highly recommended.
I personally enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to anyone interested in life at the bottom of the earth.
a sensational perspective describing how wildlife etches out a living in one of the coldest regions on planet earth! From penquins, seals, and to whales, it is truly amazing how such animals have adapted to a world full of ice, freezing cold, and the perils of being exposed to constant chilling temperatures!
This DVD is well worth watching!
This will continue to be the definitive documentary on Antarctica biology for a generation to come. As narrator, David Attenborough brings his unique voice to describe this frigid continent. Using his “flair” for placing himself in difficult and sometimes dangerous places, he gives us as viewers the maximum access to a place nearly none of us can visit, and uses the genuine drama of reality to help us “feel” Antarctica to the extent that a limited audio-visual presentation can.
Program One zeroes in on the lone figure of Attenborough at the South Pole. He introduces the limited wildlife that can live here and who will make up the actors in this biome: penguins, seals, albatrosses. Locking up 3/4ths of the world’s freshwater, the Antarctic is scanned from the Pole to the edge of the glaciers calving into the oceans. Time-lapse photography follows the locking of the ocean edge in sea ice in winter. Krill (small crustaceans) feed in the rich oxygen-laden water and make up a critical short food chain for penguins and whales. One of the precious highlights of this series is the photography fo the humpback whales working as a group to form a curtain fo bubbles and spiral inward, corralling the krill, and then rushing upward in the center to rake in the krill on their baleen combs—a jaw-dropping episode of whale cooperation. Birds in turn take advantage of this krill massacre in a feeding frenzy. The albatross feeds at the shallows; the seals dive deeper. Petrels scavenge on carcasses. The albatross returns to nesting Sites on South Georgia Island to feed 10-month young larger than the adult birds. King penguins are shown (600,000 to a colony) with parent-and-chick locating each other; also courtship.
Program Two (“The Ice Retreats”) begins with the bull elephant seals and male “beachmasters” guarding a hundred females, fighting, mating. The albatross that spends most of its time airborne soaring has select breeding colonies on higher ground, performs courtship, keeps eggs warm. Predatory birds (petrels and skuas) are a danger at night. Night-photography shows bird burrows and chicks. Macaroni penguins pack hillsides fighting over nest sites; watch over eggs (one is abandoned); sheepbills eat penguin feces and eggs; migrate back in spring along the peninsula. Another penguin nests in rocks. Pack ice poses a limitation to whales. Crab-eater seals on the ice flows actually eat krill, not crabs. The Adele penguin breeds farther south. Snow Petrels journey to the mountain tops 144 miles from the coast to “battle” in the snow and build nests in crevices.
Program Three (“Race to Breed”) shows the fur seals swim to South Georgia and establish territories; skuas feed on the afterbirth of the baby seals; males challenge males. By now a viewer realizes that life in Antarctica is one battle with the weather and another among wildlife. Chin-strap penguins nest on higher ground. Leopard seals kill penguins in the ocean. At this point, this documentary provides the only glimpse of invertebrate life by showing the melting of the ice into water and the emergence of frozen mites with a time lapse view of the thaw; a brief view of springtails is also included although these insects are not named; crustaceans; lichens on rock; red algae on snow. My one disappointment was the lack of coverage of the tardigrades that also dominate here, being able to survive the long winter in a totally life-less or “anabiotic” stage. Rich phytoplankton blooms on the ocean floor above sponges, sea anemones, etc. that thrive in the rich nutrient and high oxygen in cold water areas. Blue-eyed shanks (birds) feed their young; Antarctic terns fly less gracefully; Adele penguins tend their chicks and skuas attach all weak young.
Program Four (“The Door Closes”) is a foreboding lead into the long, cold, dark winter in the Antarctic. Macaroni penguins attempt to land ashore in massive ocean waves (students may anguish over these scenes). With time running out, the Adele colony has a short breeding season and must return to the sea and Leopard seals attack and kill some. Nemertean worms clean carcasses at ocean bottom (time lapse shows consumption over time). Chin-strap penguins stand still through the blizzards. The ice consolidates. Fur seals and pups are left without males. Skuas and petrels scavenge. The South Georgia pintail duck is the only duck to eat meat. Elephant seals form wallows. The gray-headed albatross feeds young. The wandering albatross nests inland after 3 years at sea; forms dancing parties and may court for several years. Food in the ocean reduces as winter approaches. The Emperor penguin remains while others leave.
Program Five (“The Big Freeze”) sees -70C degree and 120 mph winds. Weddell seals survive 800 miles from the South Pole by spending most time in the water just under the ice, where the temperature is only -1.8C. Underwater are fish with anti-freeze, giant jellyfish, sea stars that feed on seal feces, stalked sponges. The Weddell seals give birth and use teeth to keep the one ice hole from sealing over, which would be fatal. Mount Erebus is largest active volcano in Antarctica which supports bacteria and algae and has dry valleys and endolithic (inside rock) lichens. The vast Antarctic Plateau seemingly extends forever. The Emperor penguins head south in May (beginning of winter) and are the only birds to lay eggs on ice (versus rock) but eggs in immediately moved to a pouch on male. [These are the penguins of “March of the Penguins” fame.] Females then trek to the ocean and the males much huddle for one month of total darkness. Beautiful views of the aura australis (southern lights). Males go 115 days without food until the females return from the ocean in early spring; in cases of lost parents, adoption doesn’t work. A brief history of Wilson Cook’s early trip to harvest an egg for evidence for a biological theory.
Program Six (“Footstep in the Snow”) focuses on the human efforts to explore the Antarctic. Scott’s 1911 camp is preserved in an on-site museum and Attenborough shows the artifacts a century later, describes the expedition and its disastrous ending. To get to the South Pole, Attenborough uses a plane and takes only 4 hours. Today’s modern international Antarctic base is isolated under a geodesic dome, and is the perfect place for clear sky astronomy. The specialized equipment and architecture is well-described, as is life at the station, the role of dogs, food supplies, and the 37 days of darkness. Adele penguins return with the sun, are marked and measured. Dogs are being replaced by faster motorized vehicles. Penguins and albatrosses are tagged with transmitters—but you have to catch them first. Chicks are weighed on a fake nest. Most viewers will appreciate the view of the difficulties of filming in this environment. At several points in this series, Attenborough has been dangerously close to bull seals, etc. and so have the cameramen—but that is part of what makes Attenborough films unforgettable—adrenalin helps seal in memories! This includes wetsuit diving in frigid ocean waters to film the krill and whales. A small sailing ship lands his crews. Camera techniques are a highlight. Final scenes show wetsuit diving again to watch underwater seals and in a hold-your-breathe moment, a 12-foot Leopard seal that has just killed a penguin faces the camera with curiosity and instead of attacking the cameraman, offers his penguin carcass like a cat brings a mouse to its owner.
This 3-hour film was a labor-of-love and took far longer to film. The adept watcher will see that Attenborough is wearing many polar outfits in different scenes—red, green, blue, yellow—and that for some scenes in bitterly cold wind, he has his parka off in order to speak to the camera and his face is red and about to frostbite. For David Attenborough, his sharing these adventures with a worldwide audience is a labor of love.
John Richard Schrock