Stunning aerial photography illustrates the astonishing variety of natural landscapes all over the planet.


Narrator: Glenn Close
Director: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Length: 118
Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
US DVD release date: 2009-06-05

The latest in a series of aesthetically pleasing and educational (or scaremongering, depending on your world view) portrayals of the glories of our blue planet is Home, narrated by Glenn Close. Taking cues from the BBC/Discovery Channel’s Planet Earthseries as well as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Home doesn’t quite manage to distinguish itself from its predecessors. Close’s script rarely tells the viewer what we’re looking at; no matter how gorgeous the images, they cannot stand completely alone.

There is no doubt that much of the aerial photography gathered by award-winning photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand is jaw-dropping in its beauty. Arthus-Bertrand has spent years systematically photographing the planet from the air and making those images available as a part of various collections and UNESCO-funded projects; his website is a fabulous resource for incredible photographs (they’re free; you can go get some stunning desktop wallpaper).

The narration describes the origins of Earth to start with, but the images don’t completely match with what Close is saying, and the lack of perspective in many shots doesn’t help the viewer know whether we’re looking at something under a microscope, or something from a mile-high aerial view. The language is appropriate for an elementary school lesson about science and the origins of life, which doesn’t fit with the complexity and elegance of the visuals.

The two hour DVD is billed as “A stunning visual portrayal of earth”, and it is, but a confusing one. At times the narrator’s voice falls silent, allowing for a few moments of full viewer absorption in the spectacular landscapes the the camera pans over. Then suddenly the voice is back, discussing some point of agricultural catastrophe that may or may not fit with the current images. And the audio fades in and out, growing suddenly softer, as though something went wrong with the fader during the final sound edits.

Throughout, the writers have decided to couch all references to oil in phrases such as “pockets of sunlight” – adding something like a touch of whimsy even while the looming difficulties of life without easy access to oil are meant to be threatening and serious. Close reads, “The most urgent priority is to pick every pocket of sunlight.” The depletion of petroleum reserves is emphasized alongside other diminished resources, but no other fight for naturally-occurring materials gets the same nickname-y treatment.

One of the best juxtapositions in the production starts with an image of Dakar, Senegal, the westernmost city in Africa and traditional net-fishing efforts there. Following a scene of the local fishing industry borne on shallow coastal waters, the camera cuts to a shot of a desert where people struggle to draw water from a deep well, originating in an aquafir thousands of years old. Home resonates most powerfully when the camera observes people in their home environments, interacting with the natural world.

With a wealth of stunning photography to draw from, Arthus-Bertrand has used some incredible images to illustrate relationships between climates and geographical features. Everywhere, people struggle to survive, and it’s amazing that this can be the case whether they live near open water or thousands of miles away, whether they live near a major urban center or closer to a village setting largely inhabited by livestock rather than people. Each setting presents its own challenges and wonders.

Home offers no interviews or commentary, but allows the presentation of aerial video to stand alone visually. Besides Close’s accompaniment, there is a varied soundtrack of soaring classical and operatic vocals providing an audio backdrop to the narration. Armand Amar put together the original score, and at times it fits well and at other times is simply too dramatic to stand up to the narration even when paired with the incredible photography.

The packaging notes that the production spans 54 countries and 120 locations, but most are not identified throughout the piece itself, so it’s hard to get a sense of how much territory was really covered. Finally, during the credit sequence at the end of the production, a number of scenes from the film are replayed and identified with a small caption bearing the country name.

The packaging also makes a small mention of the producers’ profits from the film going back to, and using environmentally friendly technology to produce the casing. The organization provides a forum for discussion about the environment, as well as hosting the full length film so it can be viewed as widely as possible. Though the production may have its flaws, Arthus-Bertrand and his colleagues certainly have the interests of the planet at heart.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Multi-tasking on your smart phone consumes too many resources, including memory, and can cause the system to "choke". Imagine what it does to your brain.

In the simplest of terms, Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen's The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World is a book about technology and the distractions that often accompany it. This may not sound like anything earth shattering. A lot of people have written about this subject. Still, this book feels a little different. It's a unique combination of research, data, and observation. Equally important, it doesn't just talk about the problem—it suggests solutions.

Keep reading... Show less

The husband and wife duo DEGA center their latest slick synthpop soundscape around the concept of love in all of its stages.

Kalen and Aslyn Nash are an indie pop super-couple if there ever were such a thing. Before becoming as a musical duo themselves, the husband and wife duo put their best feet forward with other projects that saw them acclaim. Kalen previously provided his chops as a singer-songwriter to the Georgia Americana band, Ponderosa. Meanwhile, Aslyn was signed as a solo artist to Capitol while also providing background vocals for Ke$ha. Now, they're blending all of those individual experiences together in their latest project, DEGA.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.