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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • None
  • Photo gallery - 18 pics
  • Short film - Mystery of the Ocean Wanderers

Wolves of the Sea

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 58 mins . G . PAL


This is the award winning documentary that uncovered many previously unknown facts about life as an orca, or killer whale (curiously there is no mention of the fact that an orca isnít actually a whale at all, but the largest member of the dolphin family).

Shot all over the world in 1993, the documentary follows individual pods in various treacherous regions of the worldís turbulent seas from British Columbia to Norway to the Antarctic and to the grisly finalť on the rocky slopes of Argentina. Here we see the full spectacle of the killer whales beaching themselves to pursue baby seals in a previously unseen exploration that reveals much about the orca that no-one had even imagined before. For example, the orcas require around three seal pups a day for health, but when catching more than they require, the orca is shown helping the dazed survivors back to the beach.

The footage is rather breathtaking and shows us areas in the ocean that could only be described as terrifying. The Corsair Islands, midway between the African continent and Antarctica, is a volcanic shithole sticking out defiantly from the middle of 40-foot seas, where heavy rain is a daily occurrence and not much but scant patches of coarse grass grows. Here in the driving and almost cyclonic winds some of the more memorable images are captured of the orcas at play and at work, with some incredible footage of orcas massaging themselves on the pebble beaches.

Truly these are magnificent creatures and here they have been captured by filmmakers with an obvious love for their work and their subjects. In true documentary style there is little to no interference with the workings of nature and that is where we see some of the more grisly, yet strangely compelling images of these incredible mammals.


Shot in 1993, there have been noteable developments in the cinematography of nature since, but here the footage is still excellent and is presented in the TV ratio of 1.78:1 with 16:9 enhancement. Colours are fine and while mostly rain-sodden and grey, the sharpness of the image is never brought into question. There are minimal shadows as all footage is shot in daylight (or at least daylight hours). Underwater shots are clear and well lit as well, leaving nothing to the imagination. In all itís a brilliantly shot documentary that asks as many new questions as it answers old ones.


Being a TV documentary, naturally we receive Dolby Digital stereo, though this is more than adequate for the purposes here. David Attenborough, that stalwart of the documentary, narrates in his engaging manner, adding just the perfect emphasis in the vocal accompaniment to what we are watching. He speaks clearly and eloquently and is always plainly understood.

Music has been scored by our very own DVDnet reviewer Martin Friedel, who makes a good go of it. Alright, so itís a different Martin Friedel, but he does an excellent job regardless. He was also responsible for the score to the Platypus documentary I reviewed a while back and here he fills the film with deep cellos and lighter violins, bringing a classical elegance to the underwater world of the orcas.

There is a great opportunity for multitudes of undersea channel use in the surrounds that sadly goes begging, but I guess we canít have everything.


Only two, but certainly inclusions of note. The first is Mysteries of the Ocean Wanderers, a similar documentary about the albatross of the Corsair Islands mentioned above. I think this is why this particular feature has been included, as it resembles the other. Unfortunately, this also doubles some footage of the orcas feeding on the beach, which is a bit of a let down, considering that is available in the main feature. However, this is still an excellent documentary on the albatross (of indeterminate flavour) and several other birds of this crappy scrap of rock jutting out of the frigid sea. It is presented in 4:3 and is visually and audibly pretty much the twin of the other in terms of transfer quality.

Our only other extra is a photo gallery containing 18 full screen pics from the main feature. They arenít stills though, these appear to have been shot at the time by a photographer with the documentary crew. And I have to say, full screen is the way a photo gallery should be seen. Nice work!


For any lover of the usually excellent documentaries regularly scheduled on the ABC, this rates among the best without question. Brilliant cinematography, an affectionate study and a fantastic transfer make this disc a sensational item for the collector of fine docos. For anyone else, Iím not sure the disc would warrant re-watching all that often, but is still a fascinating hour or so in front of the box, with the extra doco being of almost as much appeal. Allover itís a rather limited affair regarding extras to explore, and although the shows are both brilliant, personally Iíd be asking slightly more from a DVD package of this sort.

Still, itís good stuff and well worth a visit.

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      And I quote...
    "Awesome cinematography captures the orca at its voracious best in this brilliant hour long documentary. It's slightly devoid of extras though, unfortunately."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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