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Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life
Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life
Actor: David Attenborough
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2009     1hr 0min

A personal insight, from the world's favourite naturalist, into Darwin's theory of evolution, exploring why it is more important now than ever before. Beautifully shot, this is the start of a series of celebrations of the ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: David Attenborough
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Television, Educational, Documentary
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/03/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An understanding of our family tree
The Online Cowboy | Minneapolis, MN | 11/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I thought the BBC Earth series of Charles Darwin was absolutely wonderful. They are very well produced and have an updated polished look to them that I have not yet seen matched by any of the other documentary videos out there. As far as the content, it packs a wallop within the the 60 minute feature of Charles Darwin's quest for understanding our place and how we all got this far in the tree of life. David Attenborough does a great job of pointing out the facts with a humbling and un-patronizing way to the viewer that makes it all so easy to understand AND make sense. I think this would make for great viewing in a high school science class."
Urbane, gentle introduction to Darwin from a venerable resou
Greg | Brooklyn Park, Mongolia | 11/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"David Attenborough has been doing wonderful, highly creditable nature shows for decades, and this low-key and soft-spoken paen to the insight of Charles Darwin fits perfectly within that tradition. As a mature and sophisticated spokesperson for nature's wonders and science's ability to penetrate the outer layers of that wonder, there are few better tour guides to the revolution that Darwin brings to our understanding of the living world. Illustrated with wonderful clips from previous nature documentaries and well-written narration from key locations--including Darwin's home in Down), this is a fitting tribute to Darwin during this, his year (200th birthday and 150th anniversary of publication of "Origin of Species"). To make matters better, the DVD includes an added feature, "The Evolution of Evolution," which is a slightly splashier take on Darwin's achievement and includes fascinating insights from Darwin experts. Very erudite commentary, made with that BBC flare for intelligence and understatement that we "Sesame Street" generation Americans often grow to so admire."
Charles Darwin and the Evolution of Natural History Televisi
Paul Daniel Picard | 12/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life is an outstanding celebration of the life and ideas of one of the greatest scientists yet to live. This nearly one-hour film includes a close look at the importance of both descent with modification and the common ancestry of all life. Wonderful glimpses at Darwin's original specimens and notes, important fossils, and DNA evidence are also high-lighted. These are all connected nicely into an easy to follow description of the primary mechanism of evolution, natural selection.
Weaved seamlessly throughout is natural history film footage shown of David Attenborough's many earlier television series. By using this footage, the film apply demonstrates the diversity of life and celebrates the work of perhaps the greatest natural history television series writer, director, and producer (Planet Earth, Life on Earth, and many other series).
I have used this film successfully with my high school biology classes. It provides a clear, direct, and articulate look at a 21st century, evidence based understanding of evolution and the foundational role that Darwin's work has played. This film is indeed a fitting tribute to Darwin on the 200th anniversary of his birth.
"Nothing in the natural world makes sense except when seen i
Stephen Pletko | London, Ontario, Canada | 01/23/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)


"Our Earth is the only known planet that sustains life. And it does so in abundance. I have been fortunate enough over the years to travel to some of the most extraordinary and remote places on Earth to find and film animals...The sheer number and variety of animals and plants is astonishing. Estimates of the number of different species vary from six million to a hundred million...

There are often a multitude of variations on a single pattern. Nearly 200 different kinds of monkeys for example. And 315 humming birds, nearly a thousand bats. And beetles, at least 350 thousand species of them. Not to mention nearly a quarter of a million different kinds of flowering plants. The variety is astounding...

Why should there be such a dazzling variety? And how can we make sense of such a huge range of living organisms?

Two hundred years ago, a man was born who was to explain this astonishing diversity of life. In doing so he revolutionized the way in which we see the world and our place in it. His name was Charles Darwin."

The above comes from the introduction to this astonishing documentary hosted by broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough (born: 1926). This documentary was made to celebrate the 200TH anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth (in 1809) and the 150TH anniversary of his scientific masterpiece "On the Origin of Species" (first edition published in 1859 with a longer title).

This documentary has it all and explains as well as shows all basic aspects of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. You'll learn other interesting information such as about significant historical figures of that time period, about Mendel's laws of inheritance, and of course about the clashes with religion that resulted from the introduction of this scientific theory.

This documentary also shows parts of the documentary "Life on Earth" (1979) that features a younger David Attenborough.

There is one bonus entitled "Darwin's Struggle: The Evolution of the Origin of Species." This excellent bonus feature explains everything that was going on in Darwin's life prior to the publication of his scientific treatise. It includes biographical material on Darwin, the world he lived in, and the inspirations for "The Origin."

Finally, this bonus feature is just as long as the main feature described above. This bonus feature is not hosted by David Attenborough.

In conclusion, this documentary explains and shows quite well Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. After viewing this documentary it's apparent that:

"Nothing in the natural world makes sense except when seen in the light of evolution."

(2009; 1 hr; bonus feature also 1 hr; 12 chapters; bonus feature 6 chapters; wide screen)