Classic Nature Documentaries

With the help of modern technology, dedicated scientists and filmmakers are able to bring nature's wonders into your living room in the form of impressive television nature documentaries. While there are plenty of documentaries worthy of any "best of" list, five classic nature documentaries stand the test of time. If you haven't already seen the following, be sure to put them on your "must see" list.

Frozen Earth: co-production of the Discovery Channel and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

Narrated by actor Alec Baldwin and viewed on American television for the first time in the spring of 2012, this classic nature documentary is the creation of the same individuals who made Planet Earth and Life documentaries. The seven-part series focuses on wildlife in the Arctic, Antarctic and other frozen parts of the globe. It has spectacular footage of action such as orcas working as a team to wash a tired seal off an ice floe and three-ton bull elephant seals brutally fighting each other for mating rights on a crowded beach. Frozen Earth delivers the beauty and the tragedy of nature in one of the world's harshest environments.

Planet Earth: co-production of the Discovery Channel and the BBC.

Five years in the making, in 2007 Planet Earth became the most important classic nature documentary of all time. Actress Sigourney Weaver narrated the 11-part series. Even before airing, it received rave reviews for its never-before-seen footage of unusual animal behavior and unbelievable scenery shots. This documentary delivered on its promise to "see your world like never before" and will remain the blue-chip standard by which to judge future nature documentaries. Installments featured both arctic poles, mountains, oceans, deserts, ice worlds, shallow seas, great plains, jungles, fresh water, forests and caves.

The Living Planet: by David Attenborough and the BBC.

When The Living Planet was released in 1984, it was an ambitious documentary that many now believe was the precursor to the technologically superior Planet Earth. The 12-part series traveled the globe with footage of all major geographical regions that are home to all life forms. Every collection of classic nature documentaries should include this pioneering effort.

Quatsi Trilogy: by Godfrey Reggio.

Reggio's experimental nature documentary trilogy began in 1982 with the release of Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance. By marrying slow motion and time-lapse photography to the music of Philip Glass, Reggio revealed ecology-minded images depicting the relationship among humans, nature and technology into the conscience of popular culture. Without any dialog or narration, viewers must draw their own conclusions from the union of images and music. The word "koyaanisqatsi" in the Hopi Indian language means "crazy life, life in turmoil or a life that calls for another way of living." The second documentary in this outstanding trilogy, Powaqqatsi, was released in 1988 and preceded Naqoyqatsi in 2002.

Weird Nature: co-production of the Discovery Channel and the BBC.

This 2011 series takes a fascinating look at the strangest behaviors in the animal world. Through action-packed sequences of nature's odd and often-amusing antics, Weird Nature educates and fascinates at the same time. Watch a hagfish slime his way to freedom and a skunk teach an unforgettable lesson to a street gang. This classic nature documentary proves that humans have much more to learn about the world around them.

As environmentalists strive to raise awareness about preserving earth and its natural treasurers, expect even more impressive classic nature documentaries.

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