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Delicate and beautiful balances

Disney movie full of subtle warnings

April 28, 2009
By Tony Rutherford

Capturing the awestruck beauty of uninhabitable locations (Antarctica , the highest mountains, or deserts), the Disney nature study, "Earth" quickly establishes how a natural event on one side of the globe (such as snow melting) brings water to a dry desert steam in time for a migrating herd of animals to quench their parched throats. However, for a documentary to move feelings, it must establish empathy. Here, feelings heighten for the polar bear trapped on an ice flow, for elephant mothers watching after their cubs, and for birds trying to find strength to soar over the highest mountain peak to a warmer paradise. Narrated by James Earl Jones, "Earth" contains inspired narration of which any viewer can relate. Jones has us laughing at birds attempting to clean their nest area in order to woo a date. Unlike a blunt call for action, such as "An Inconvenient Truth," this film's messages have thoughtful subtleties such as a remark about a region's warming, the decline of rain forests, and the description of grassy masses as paradise. Cinematographers have a protocol designed to wring the most impressive reaction from viewers. Repeatedly, wide, panoramic shots show either an expanse of wilderness or a mass of migrating animals. These scenes induce a geometric symmetry for choreography and then focus on close ups of various animals, their migrations, their struggles, and how each generation is precious to the species. Around the world in 90 minutes - including 'making of' type scenes showing the difficulty of photography - brings an oddly ringing theme in your mind. Earth's creatures, except man, are hunters, the hunted or both. They do not gorge to excess; they form barricades to protect their young. And, in contrast to man, the creatures seem to always be moving from one location to another in order to survive. Ironically, it is the human that settles in one venue that becomes their home. Though we do not migrate, men and women do pull up stakes for reasons other than instinct - to find a better job, to seek a more ideal climate, or to be near someone loved. The emphasis is love; we must love the planet too, or, balances already altering will further deteriorate. ? Contact Tony at



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