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  Directed by
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  Specs
      Languages
    • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
    • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
    • Japanese: Dolby Digital Stereo
    • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
    • Dutch: Dolby Digital Stereo
      Subtitles
      English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Dutch
      Extras
    • Isolated music score
    • Animated menus

    The Complete Cosmos - Solar System

    Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 125 mins . E . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    This DVD is one of a two part set exploring the universe in which we live. For the average space afficionado, this is going to be a real treat. It is an award winning TV series, although I had not seen this on TV here.It main competitor is "The Planets" BBC series of which I have been a great fan. These two DVDs are indeed worthy competitors, and together with The Planets, is about as complete a set of space DVDs are you're likely to need. This DVD concentrates on "The Solar System". It has 13 "chapters" grouped in to 4 "themes" as follows:

    Hub of the Planets

    1. The Sun
    2. Mercury
    3. Venus

    Earthspace

    4. Earth
    5. Moon
    6. Aurorae and Eclipses

    Mars, Life and Impacts

    7. Mars
    8. Lifequest
    9. Impact!

    Outer Planets

    10. Jupiter
    11. Saturn
    12. Uranus and Neptune
    13. Realm of the Comets

    This DVD, more than the others that I have seen, gives a real dimension to space. It uses visual examples based on distance from the earth to the moon or sun as examples to put things in scale. Large numbers have little meaning to most people, and putting it in perspective like this helps a great deal. I think that this DVD made me realise how insignificant we are in the scheme of the solar system, let alone the universe.

      Video
    Contract

    The video is presented in 4:3 ratio only. It is also in NTSC, so you need to be sure that it will work with your TV. Given it was produced for TV, I guess this is to be expected. The video has a great deal of computer rendered graphics in it, in fact, it's almost exclusively so. This of course means a pretty nice picture quality when transferred to DVD. There is a great deal of detail in the animations, and they are very clearly presented. This is a visual feast. It's hard to describe the quality more than this - there's no problem here. There are only a few scenes with real world video, and these are fine also. If I had any quibbles, it's that in some shots when they talk about Mercury rising over the horizon of earth, the image is small and hard to see - Mercury is kind of small, so I guess this is real, but it might not be necessary to make it exactly to scale!

      Audio
    Contract

    Audio is only a Dolby Stereo soundtrack. Given that this is mostly background music and narration, this is plenty. The music is appropriate and well synchronised with the video. The narration is presented in American English, British English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Japanese. There is also a music only track without narration. Dialogue levels were very well balanced with the ambient music, and there was no problem discerning any of the narration. The inclusion of both British and American narration initially seemed strange to me. I greatly preferred the British English version (by Jon Snow), the American narration seeming somewhat annoying to my ears. Obviously included for the American audience only, it is the default. In my opinion, any documentary worth it's salt needs a British narration; perhaps I've been watching too much Richard Attenborough throughout my life!

      Extras
    Contract

    The menu structure on this disk could probably be counted as an extra. I tend to find the "multi-level" chapter effects on DVD's very annoying, and although this one is functional, I've not had reason to change my mind. On my Pioneer system, this level of menu use means that there is no timer display, and you can't turn it on. I like to know exactly what part of a chapter I'm up to, if for no other reason if to show other people your particular bits of interest. If you play the DVD from start to finish, the 13 chapters play continuously, stopping briefly between "titles". This is where I find this menu structure annoying. If you want to go to "chapter 5", you need to drill down the menu structure for "Theme 2, Chapter 5". Each so called "chapter" on the DVD liner is in fact not a chapter stop. Each chapter is broken up into several topic stops (typically 8-10). So while watching the topic on "The Moon", you find yourself having to hit the next button 8 times to get to "chapter 6". This can be a very long way to go through the DVD. If you watch the DVD in multiple sessions (recommended as at 125 minutes) you'll need to use the menus to watch each "theme" at once.

    The advantage of this system though, is than if you can be bothered, there are references to other related topics on the DVD in each menu. In this way, if you're in more of a "research mode" you can cross reference the topics. An interesting use of DVD technology, but I'm not sure that it is worth the effort.

    There is a link to the York Films web site where you can get an extra 50,000 words of details on the solor system. There is also a reference to disk 2 of the series, which is, I guess, a nice way to get another DVD sale.

      Overall  
    Contract

    I loved this DVD, and as a bit of a space nut, this was indeed a welcome addition to my collection. I have no hesitation in recommending this DVD to anyone. Even if you have "The Planets", I'd still be dishing out some extra money to buy this one. Although you don't need to buy this DVD with the second in the set, it is probably worth dishing out the dough for both.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=418
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      And I quote...
    "Looking for a competitor to the BBC's The Planets? This is it."
    - Rob Pascale
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-717 Gold
    • TV:
          Hitachi F100 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-3300
    • Speakers:
          Krix Euphonix
    • Centre Speaker:
          Krix Centrix
    • Surrounds:
          Mission Dipoles
    • Subwoofer:
          Aaron SUB-240
    • Audio Cables:
          Harmony Gold Coax
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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