In 1998, a team led by a French archaeologist went to upper Siberia, following the tip that there may have been a woolly mammoth encased in the permafrost. The team was forced to rely on local nomads for help in locating... more » the beast; the natives were the first to locate the mammoth's huge tusks. Fighting the unforgiving climate, the team only had a small window of time in which to work before the Siberian winter would stop them; indeed, they had to return the following year to unearth the gigantic prehistoric animal. Eventually they wound up airlifting out, with an enormous Soviet-era cargo helicopter, a huge block of ice with two tusks sticking out and a mammoth inside. In typically exhaustive Discovery Channel fashion, Raising the Mammoth not only follows the efforts of the determined archaeologists, but discusses the history and evolution of the mammoth, theories about the species' demise, and the possibilities of using mammoth DNA to produce clones with today's technology (shades of Jurassic Park). It's a fascinating look at what had to be an enormous struggle, one that paid off in terms of scientific knowledge and archaeological significance. --Jerry Renshaw« less
Troy G. Johnson | San Francisco, CA USA | 07/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a documentary. If you do not like the pace of a documentary, you won't like "Raising the Mammoth". It is NOT a feature film filled with special effects. The basic outline of the film is the inner workings of an archeologist whose dream is fulfilled in the frigid arctic as he battles the elements to 'raise' a Mammoth. The film is very 'real' about the human condition and our struggles to do extraordinary things, like chipping a prehistoric elephant out from 15 feet of solid, arctic ice. This is a GREAT documentary which reveals not only how a scientist must approach certain obstacles, but also how important inner personal relationships can be in dealing with indigenous cultures - such as the tribes which inhabit the vast, icy wastelands. It is truly amazing when they find and capture a preserved Mammoth, you will be amazed. The DVD has great features."
For well-informed die-hard Pachyderm fans only
Dr. Christopher Coleman | HONG KONG | 10/19/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Raising the Mammoth is a two-hour Discovery Channel documentary about an expedition to Siberia to remove a complete mammoth body frozen for twenty thousand years. The project was completed in one ten-thousandth of the time the creature lay undisturbed; bad weather closed in and caused delays of a year. Partly fascinating, partly annoying, mostly informative but not altogether so, Raising the Mammoth seeks to inspire and awe us and sometimes stretches the point in order to do so. It tries too hard to become a drama, and doesn't focus enough on getting the scientific issues right. A few examples will prove my point. The first concerns the difficulty in removing the block of permafrost that encased the mammoth. It is hard to believe that the scientists involved would have left to chance the matter of whether or not the block was too large to be lifted by the helicopter at hand, as was portrayed. Surely calculations giving them some reasonable hope of success were in hand or some other method of removal would have been pursued, but the last-minute suspense was played to the hilt like a Bruce Willis thriller. At one point we are told that the Siberian Woolly Mammoth stood twice the height of a man and weighed as much as 10 elephants. Almost immediately following we are told that the Columbian Mammoth, prospering in the milder climates of North America, was the largest of mammoth species and stood twice the height of a man and weighed as much as 10 elephants. Which is true? How could the largest of the mammoth species be the same size and weight as a lesser member? And why were we repeatedly treated to truly substandard animations of mammoths that surely did nothing to "bring them to life"? Most bothersome to me were the glossing of various significant mammoth theories--mention was made that Man may have played a part in the extinction of the mammoth, but there was no discussion of how. The documentary implied that Early man, hunting with spears in groups and picking off an occasional weakened mammoth would cause an extinction, but surely this isn't the case. (In fact, modern research shows rabbit to be the most common meat in early man's diet.) But the hunting of entire herds, through burning plains and driving animals over cliffs, is a known tactic that could have lead to an ultimate devastation. This strategy is never mentioned or shown, but instead we are treated to repeated pictures of a single adult mammoth killed by one or two brave hunters with spears.But what I regret most of all is that the documentary closed without showing us any more of the mammoth than a block of permafrost with tusks (the tusks had been removed originally but were put back in place, sticking out of the block like some Cubist elephant; we are told this was out of respect for the creature but I have to believe production values played an equal part) and a patch of reddish-brown hair the size of a throw rug. Presumably the production deadline closed before the Mammoth was removed, but I was left feeling only slightly more satisfied than when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's "secret" vault and found only an empty glass bottle and a few scraps of trash."
Once in a lifetime event that shouldn't be missed
Shelley Gammon | Kaufman, Texas USA | 07/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This isn't an epic show, but it is an epic discovery. Mammoths have been raised before, but never in a sophisticated manner like this that keeps them preserved. Perhaps a little tedious for young restless viewers who just want to see a real "live" mammoth, this show covers everything... the horrible frigid conditions in which the scientists prepared to locate and raise the animal, technology used, local native peoples, and right down to the DNA.These scientists use everything from the biggest helicopter on earth to a simple hair dryer to do their work... to actually see the tufts of hair protruding from the ice is breath taking, and hearing the scientist describe the smell of the still intact animal can really put goose bumps on you. They discuss the real (a la "Jurassic Park") possibility of creating a real Wooly Mammoth clone, using a modern elephant as a surrogate mother... and the second best option, an actual hybrid of the prehistoric animal and an African or Asian elepahnt. Can you imagine? This a great show for classrooms, home-schoolers and anyone who loves animals, science and the allure of prehistoric animals. Not just the old dried-up bones, but the entire animal... right there in suspended animation... an incredible sight to behold."
What a disappointment.
Shelley Gammon | 03/26/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I now wish that I had read some of the below reviews before I bought this DVD.
Raising The Mammoth is an interesting story showing how difficult it was to retrieve the iceblock,but couldn't they have waited until later to actually show us the Mammoth?
All we see is some red fur at the top of the Mammoth and the tusks which had already been removed.
Apparently,most of the head had already rotted away after being left to the ellements by people retrieving the tusks,but the rest of the body was intact.
The DVD does have some good extras such as a Mammoth timeline and an interview,but the end is disappointing because we never get to see it."
Fascinating Stuff. History, Drama, Science, It's all there.
Heath Jones | Madison, Alabama United States | 06/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is about as exciting as archaeology gets. The team's struggles with the elements make for great tension and drama. It really feels like an adventure. Unfortunately the computer generated scenes fall well short of Jurassic Park, and they break from the surreal atmosphere of Siberia. But you really cant expect Jurassic Park, can you? Still, I have to give this DVD 5 stars. It has so much to offer, and it totally engrossed me in the adventure. This is a classic."