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BMZ Review: Sacred Planet
By Paula Tagle


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Sacred Planet
Written by: Paula Tagle
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: 2004-04-22


Category: Reviews

With its new large format film, Sacred Planet, Walt Disney Pictures delivers both a visually compelling and socially conscious work.  Directed by Jon Long and wonderfully photographed by William Reeve, the film showcases remote locations from around the world and the indigenous people who inhabit it.  From the snowy mountaintops of New Zealand to the woody coasts of British Columbia, Sacred Planet explores the natural world at its most pristine and, not only the connection traditional peoples share with it, but also our own.

The film opens with the image of a lone, gnarled tree -- dry, barren and for all intents dead.  From there it quickly moves away from this lifeless figure and charges through breathtaking nature shots displaying a diversity of locales and landscapes.  With a constantly moving camera, the film captures both the vitality of the natural world as well as its tranquility.  Floating along a river through the forests of Borneo or swimming with a herd of killer whales, Sacred Planet exposes the little-known places of the Earth and all its grandeur.

Cutting through and transposing these nature images are glimpses into city life.  Using time-lapse photography, Sacred Planet presents a bustling, fast, dirty world populated by the detached and self-possessed.  The city is alive as well, but clearly this is a different type of vitality than that expressed through the natural world.  Rather the city streets, its malls, its highways and commerce express an artificial sort of life compared to the almost transcendent symmetry found throughout nature.  Instead of speeding cars and lights, the film gives us running giraffes, a tiger stalking through the forest or dolphins playfully dipping in and out of the water.

Minimal narration by Robert Redford sprinkle the film as well as adequate but rather uninspired voice-overs supplied by the native peoples shown throughout the movie.  The film perhaps would have worked better eliminating narration altogether, letting the profound and powerful nature images speak for themselves.  The narration full of familiar and common prose adds little to the already inspired nature shots we see.  For the most part however, the film allows the natural environment to speak for itself, letting it simply exist.  This quiet and subtle manner of the film is its true triumph, allowing nature to reveal itself and its weight and wisdom.

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