DIRECTOR: Ben Burtt
May contain spoilers!
Directed by Ben Burtt, possibly one of the best sound designers to date, and certainly a great influence on a generation of movie-goers with his revolutionary work with Lucasfilm, Steven Spielberg and Pixar, just to name a few, the sounds of the Star Wars Saga are all down to this man.
So here he is, directing Blue Planet, this gorgeous IMAX documentary focusing on, you guessed it, the Planet Earth.
Beginning with the ubiquitous talk about the Earth’s oceans and their effects on continents and eco-structures of the world, it digresses into more detailed portraits of specific places where water has played a big role in their development.
The photography is beautiful, sharp and as clear as the tropical oceans of which the film catalogues, as well as utilising a bold and brisk soundtrack. Whilst IMAX documentaries are short education films, they are the most cinematic, with huge clear hi-resolution images and a loud but hi-fidelity sound system, they make full use of their theatre’s audio visual capabilities, presenting their subjects, which in this case is Planet Earth, with the grandeur which it deserves but rarely receives in motion pictures.
But being the format that it is, it is allowed the space and time to revel in this grandeur, scope and scale, whilst educating us on the issues relating the subject, with this now serving a time capsule on the views surrounding global warming back in 1990.
Blue Planet, like most IMAX documentaries, will be an acquired taste. Documentary fans will probably complain that they are too short and not informative enough whilst many movie fans would probably leave these in the grand scale of the IMAX cinema but as for me, these IMAX documentaries are the blockbusters of the genre, revelling in the spectacle of cinema whilst having the benefit of a little education thrown in for good measure.
But how do these massive screen experiences translate to the small screen? Well for a start it depends who big your small screen is? I preferred the DVD copy of this film, as it was shot and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.44:1, which is most closely replicated in 1.33:1 here on the DVD, but the Blu-ray has reformatted it into 1.78:1 widescreen, which I presume would have cropped the images somewhat.
But whilst Blu-ray would most accurately represent the clarity of IMAX, the DVD will provide us with more scale and as a purist, the DVD wins out. But how can these films possibly be shown on a small screen? Easily. How is any movie shown on a small screen? If they are well shot, size is irrelevant.