DVD365.net
Hugo Van Lawick : Playing in Savage Paradise artwork

Hugo Van Lawick : Playing in Savage Paradise

8th April 2009

Set in the Serengeti African National Park, the camerawork of Hugo Van Lawick masterfully portrays the poetry of this magnificent land's vast landscapes and documenting the everyday life of its inhabitants.
Simon Shrimpton-Taylor, The Animals of the Serengeti
Television
2
0 Hour 52 Minutes

Like Britain's David Attenborough, where a wildlife programme wouldn't be the same without his dulcet tones, Hugo Baron van Lawick was one of the world's most respected cameramen. Concentrating on the wildlife of Eastern Africa, throughout his career Hugo managed to record the immense diversity of wildlife that Africa, and in particular Tanzania, offered. For more than thirty years he worked close to the grass of the African plains and his experience made him one of the best.

As most wildlife filmmakers know, in order to get the perfect shot, patience is a very important trait. Fortunately, the highly experienced Hugo and his team had it by the bucket load and his Emmy award winning camerawork and knowledge of wildlife's natural behaviour ensure that his films are both unique and extremely informative. Unfortunately, his work has become all the more unique as he died in 2002, aged 65. However, his work lives on in his many Nature Conservation Films and in the form of this, and other, DVD releases in the series.

Accompanied by some dramatic, and amazingly involving music, Playing In Savage Paradise is a fascinating film about Africa's famous Serengeti Park. Life on the great plain is portrayed with some spectacular footage of birth, life and death which all combine to create a unique insight into how the animals of the land, water and air live and interact with each other. As usual, those awkward mating moments of the various animals are explored along their territorial behaviour and eating habits The 30,000 square kilometres of Serengeti is made all the more beautiful by some amazing camerawork that would make the BBC wildlife department blush and it's not hard to see why Hugo's mantelpiece was groaning with awards.

With a rich diversity of animals, plus flora and fauna of every conceivable type, it should be a visual delight. And on the whole it is, with some rich and vibrant colours and a wonderful level of detail throughout the feature. Whilst grain can be an issue (and a remastered Blu-Ray release would have simply been the icing on the cake) the print is clean and free from damage. Even the complicated camouflage patterns of the various animals are handled with ease and there are no issues with pixelisation. Needless to say, the beautiful cheetah looks simply gorgeous (although I still wouldn't like to pat it on the head).

Whilst the audio is only a 224 Kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, it still manages to be wonderfully involving. With the dramatic musical score and some wonderful sounds from the Serengeti inhabitants it's a fantastic track to listen to. For an even better sound you could try pushing it through your home cinema system and allow it to enhance the audio. It's just a pity there's no option to turn off the rather cheesy narration.

Whilst the menu is static is it scored with a haunting soundtrack and accompanied by sound of twittering birds. The only extra to be found on the disc is the fifty-two minute featurette My Backyard, the Serengeti. Almost as long as the main feature itself, it's just a interesting - if not better. With plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and tonnes of information on filming techniques from the crew, and details of animal behaviour from the great man himself, it's a great view. It's just a pity we don't get to view the entire feature without the rather annoying narration. Unfortunately, whilst subtitles are probably not going to help matters too much here, unless you speak Danish, Norwegian, Finish or Swedish then you're going to be a little down on your luck. With no English subtitles it's beginning to look like this release was a hasty one with little, or no, thought for the UK market.

I'm always a fan of wildlife programmes and this one is no exception. Whilst the narration from Simon Shrimpton-Taylor is probably aimed at a much younger audience (and, at times, it so cringe worthy that it's enough to make your teeth itch), the visuals and dramatic musical score accompanying the day to day lives of the animals more than make up for it. Another bonus is the fact a collection of Hugo Baron van Lawick titles is being released by Universal and they aren't going to break the bank.

If you're a fan of wildlife films - and you want to show your children a true picture of the daily struggle of hunters, and the hunted, then you can't go wrong with this release. The only downside is that the feature is a little short, although on the flipside, the bonus documentary certainly bolsters things. It's just a pity that the lack of English subtitles give it the look of a rushed release.

  • My Backyard, the Serengeti Featurette
The Rum Diary artwork

The Rum Diary

DVD
27/03/2013
American journalist Paul Kemp takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1960s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the expatriates who live there.
King Kong artwork

King Kong

DVD
06/04/2006
Skins S7 artwork

Skins S7

DVDTV
10/09/2013
Moonlighting S1 & 2 artwork

Moonlighting S1 & 2

DVD
06/10/2008
Family Guy Presents Blue ... artwork
Ice Cold In Alex artwork

Ice Cold In Alex

BD
10/06/2011
Fast and Furious 9 artwork

Fast and Furious 9

DVDBDUHDDIGITAL
14/09/2021
The Fast family returns in the latest adrenaline-charged installment with a never-before-seen Director's Cut of Fast & Furious 9, released on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD 11th October 2021 from Universal ...
The Seventh Sea artwork

The Seventh Sea

UHD
09/09/2021
The Brokenwood Mysteries S7 artwork

The Brokenwood Mysteries S7

DVDTVBoxset
15/09/2021
Code 404 S2 artwork

Code 404 S2

DVDTV
06/09/2021
Hudson and Rex S2 artwork

Hudson and Rex S2

DVDTVBoxset
21/09/2021
No Man of God artwork

No Man of God

DVDBDDIGITAL
17/09/2021

Fast and Furious 9

News14/09/2021

The Fast family returns in the latest adrenaline-charged installment with a never-before-seen Director's Cut of Fast & Furious 9, released on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD 11th October 2021 from Universal Pictures (UK)

Space Jam

News01/09/2021

NBA champion and global icon LeBron James goes on an epic adventure alongside timeless Tune Bugs Bunny with the animated/live-action event Space Jam: A New Legacy arriving on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD 25th October 2021 from Warner Home Video.

Homefront

Features15/06/2021

Homefront stars Jason Statham as former drug enforcement agent, Phil Broker, a family man who moves off the grid with his daughter, to a seemingly quiet bayou backwater to escape his troubled past. However, Broker's world soon becomes anything but quiet once he discovers that an underbelly of drugs and violence riddles the small town.
You must be imaginative, strong-hearted, you must try things that may not work."
Ratatouille (2007)

True Romance

BDUHD19/07/2021203

Snatch

UHD12/07/2021117

The Incredibles

UHD12/07/2021111

The Krays

BD12/07/202196

Innocent S2

DVDTV28/06/202164

Mare of Easttown

DVDBDTV13/09/202146

The Office Complete

BDTV05/07/202145

Jack Irish S3

DVDBDTV06/09/202144

Possessor

DVDBDNOTES08/02/202191

The Broken Hearts Gallery

DVDDIGITALNOTES18/01/202190

Black Widow

NOTES09/07/202160

The Virtuoso

DVDNOTES30/04/202137

Edward Scissorhands

DVD28/12/2000140

Gattaca

DVD01/01/2000113

They Live

UHD
10/08/2021

Zootropolis

Zavvi ExclusiveUHD
10/08/2021

Paranormal Activity

LimitedBD
01/09/2021

Deceit

DVDTV
01/09/2021
Get a free daily news update. DVD365.net works with the Amazon Alexa flash briefing skill