Disneynature BORN IN CHINA – Blu-ray Review by John Strange
When I get the opportunity to watch and review a release from Disneynature there are a few things I expect to see. First and foremost are eye-popping visuals of the subjects whether these subjects are underwater, in the sky, or deep in the wilderness. The second is information about the subject that I would not have known
Disneynature's latest release Born in China gives these in spades. This time out we are given not one subject but four animals deep in the wilderness of China. This project is a tribute to the way China has opened up to western filmmakers and joined with them to make new and exciting films.
The first animal they show us are the red-crown cranes who live deep in mosquito infested marshes. Their nests are hard to locate in this region that is roughly twice the size of Los Angeles.
We are then introduced to the snow leopards who live deep in a mountainous region of western China that contains the highest plateau on Earth. This area is now a preserve that is 17 times as large as Yellowstone National Park! We follow a female and her two kits as they struggle to survive harsh conditions and other leopards encroaching on their hunting territory. The visuals recorded show you just how well these cats are suited to the terrain as they slink across the mountains using outcroppings and crevasses to creep up on their prey.
The extras on the disk also told me just how hard it was for the filmmakers to find and record these elusive masters of camouflage. In fact, they have made a separate film about their struggles called Ghost of the Mountains (now available in digital HD).
From the snow leopards we move to an animal who lives far to the east, in valleys in Central China (at 8000 feet elevation), the golden snub-nosed monkeys. They follow a young monkey as he deals with a new baby sister and the lessoning of affection he is being shown by parents. His baby sister is now getting all of the attention. His life is followed as he moves from the family area to live with the group the filmmakers called "The Lost Boys".
Next up is Ya-Ya, the giant panda and her newborn daughter, Mai-Mai. Pandas are very solitary creatures. It is just as well since she eats 40 pounds of bamboo a day! Ya-Ya and Mai-Mai live a nice quiet life of eating, scratching, and sleeping.
Following the pandas we are presented the chiru, Tibetan antelopes. They are worshipped as sacred creatures in that region, the living embodiment of nature's back and forth seasonal cycle. Each spring the females leave the males and trek to a lake many miles away across the mountain plains of western China. There they birth their young and raise them until they are strong enough to make the journey back to the bucks.
The filmmakers rotate us through the animals as we progress through the seasons of the year. From spring with its births to the deep winter where many struggle to survive. They use remote cameras (camera traps) to find some of the more elusive animals like the snow leopards. The filmmakers then use super-long telephoto lenses to bring us visions of those cats. They also use drones to follow some of the action without being seen.
When working around the pandas they wear panda suits to prevent the cubs from becoming use to humans. In the swamps, they do their best to protect themselves from the clouds of mosquitoes while filming the crane family. During the winter at high elevations, the humans find themselves dressed in many layers of clothing and arctic boots to protect themselves from frostbite.
The facts about the problems encountered by the filmmakers were given to us in the bonus extras on the disk. I have found that I look forward to these extras as much as I do the documentary itself. What I missed was the audio commentary I listen to on other types of films. However, I tried an option that I had never tried before. It is in the language options. Instead of "english 5.1 dts-hd master audio" I selected "english 2.0 descriptive audio" It is for visually impaired people as it gives you a description of the action on the screen following each speech by the narrator. Very interesting!
Some of you may have noticed that I did not give the names of most of the subjects. They were labeled with these names by the filmmakers. Honestly, I loved the film but these names were hard for me to figure out and being based on Chinese, impossible for me to spell!
I really enjoy watching documentaries about our planet. The Disneynature series is always worth my time. Born in China is a strong entry in their series. Buy it for your collections!
BONUS FEATURES (Blu-ray & Digital)*:
Panda Suits & Bamboo Shoots
– Join the team as they
struggle through an almost impenetrable bamboo forest in an effort to capture footage of pandas in the wild.
Walking with Monkeys – The shivering crew bundles up to film the adorable golden snub-nosed monkeys engaged in a surprisingly human activity.
Masters of Camouflage – Go behind the scenes as the filmmakers set out on a quest never before achieved: to find and film a snow leopard family in the wild.
“Everything Everything” Music Video Performed by American Authors – check out the full music video of American Authors end-credit song “Everything Everything.”
Disneynature: Get Inspired, Get Involved – Join Disneynature and the Disney Conservation as they thank our audiences and the animals who star in the films for helping to make Disneynature and its conservation efforts a success.
*Bonus features may vary by retailer
Feature Run Time:
Approximately 79 minutes
G in U.S., G in CE, and G in CF
1080p High Definition / Widescreen 1:78:1
English Audio 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Blu-ray = English SDH, Spanish and French
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target