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Hidden treasures

Video | Planet Earth documentary offers rare glimpses of nature's wonders

Issue: "Opium wars," May 12, 2007

The Psalmist writes: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." And even though producers of the hit nature documentary series Planet Earth may not know all they are seeing through their expensive high-definition cameras, the wonder and diversity with which God created our planet leap off the screen.

Discovery Channel wrapped up its 11-part documentary at the end of April, but the award-winning series-originally produced by the BBC, Discovery Channel, and the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NHK)-has already been released to DVD in standard formats as well as for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray platforms. The $80 price tag ($67 on special at Amazon.com) may seem expensive, but nature show lovers with elaborate home theaters will not find a program better suited to test the limits of their high-definition systems.

It's the wet season in the Kalahari in southern Africa and Planet Earth's high-definition cameras capture how the African wildlife has adapted to the wet climes. Some thrive: The splayed hoofs of a certain antelope allow the beasts to traipse across a marsh with ease. Baboons, on the other hand, are seen gingerly walking upright, unsure what exactly to do with their hands while they cross through the water. "Nowhere on planet Earth is the life-giving power of water so real," narrates David Attenborough in the DVD version. "This is an Africa rarely seen-a lush water world."

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The documentary's $25 million budget ensures viewers will encounter many other things rarely seen. For example: To find rare wild camels in the snowy Gobi desert, the production crew needs an all-terrain vehicle, survival gear, and GPS navigation. But finding a herd of wild Bactrian camels is only half the battle. The hardy beasts can spot interlopers from a few kilometers away and aren't keen on getting close. Planet Earth's film crew only catches fleeting glimpses of the camels-but thanks to high-powered and technologically advanced lenses and cameras, that's enough.

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