Disneynature is a company that was launched in April 2008 to bring back one of the staples of Walt Disney’s career: True-Life Adventures. I’m a pretty big fan of the company, and their work, so it was with great interest that I’ve sought out more information about their projects on a regular basis.
I’ve seen most of their films, when they’ve had topics that have interested me, and so far I’ve only skipped one. Starting with Earth, which was kind of a summary version of the BBC’s Planet Earth, I’ve been captivated by this series of films. Oceans was a disappointment to me, spending too much time on climate change and not enough time on the strange and wonderful creatures that inhabit the deep. The narration was lacking as well, with too little talking when we needed some more explanation of what we were seeing.
On Blu-ray, we next watched Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, which is a fascinating look the very intriguing and unique pink bird. It’s not been given an American narrator, so the English language is the British English version. In theaters next was African Cats, which tells the story of Lions and Cheetahs trying to survive on the African savannah. And finally, last year saw the release of Chimpanzee, which is the one that I skipped. Many years ago, they announced all of the various films that they had in the works, and that was the one that I just was not interested in. At all. Nor was my wife. We’re just not all that interested in Chimpanzees.
There was another Disneynature film that I have wanted to see ever since I saw the trailer for it on my Blu-ray of Crimson Wing. I imported the British Blu-ray because, at the time, it was unclear when that movie would be coming to America. It has since been released here, but the narrator is the same. Anyhow, there was a trailer for a film called Hidden Beauty: A Love Story that Feeds the Earth. Researching the film, I found that it was originally called Pollen. It’s finally coming here, and it’s got a new title.
Wings of Life
When I learned that the next Disneynature film to be released on the big screen wouldn’t be until 2014, I was a bit disappointed, but yesterday I got an e-mail from Disney that changed everything. This year, they’re releasing Wings of Life. It’s coming to Blu-ray (a combo pack that includes a DVD), Digital and On Demand.
From the press release:
Spring is in the air—literally—as Disneynature prepares to unveil “Wings of Life,” a spectacular, closer-than-close, high-definition look at the intricate world of butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and bats, and their life-sustaining collaboration with flowers. Directed by Louie Schwartzberg (“America’s Heart & Soul”) and narrated by Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep, “Wings of Life” will be available April 16, 2013—just in time for Earth Day.
“In the chaos and craziness of our day-to-day lives, few of us stop to consider what’s happening behind the scenes in nature that makes our lives possible,” said Streep. “This film is a stunning adventure that literally takes flight alongside all kinds of winged creatures—butterflies, bees and bats—each working hard to pollinate our planet.”
Said Schwartzberg, “For me, the joy of doing this film is to be able to explore worlds that humans can’t easily experience—bats sipping nectar in the middle of the desert at night, orchid bees expertly manipulated by a bucket orchid, exotic hummingbirds flying like airborne dancers, and a clustering monarch colony with millions of butterflies. I hope to share the spectacle of nature and to spark in others the sense of wonder I have about the natural world.”
Employing multiple cameras, both time-lapse and high-speed cinematography and extraordinary patience (while nature took its time unfolding), filmmakers shot on location in more than a dozen areas, ranging from the El Rosario Preserve in Michoacán, Mexico, to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Park in Arizona. “Wings of Life” features extraordinary imagery shot with digital cameras—one capable of frame rates of up to 1500 frames per second, and the use of a pinhole lens, which allowed the cameraman to get within millimeters of an insect subject while retaining a clear view of the background. The resulting imagery—intimate and breathtaking—is brought to life for audiences through spectacular high-definition picture and sound quality.
To celebrate the debut of “Wings of Life,” Disneynature has made a contribution to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) to protect pollinators worldwide. The DWCF has already supported more than 20 projects across North America focused on protecting pollinators and their habitats. Grants have helped conservationists save endangered butterflies, expand habitat for honeybees and educate children about the importance of pollinators and how they can help protect them.
Next year: Bears
Last September I was excited to learn about the production of the next Disneynature film – which has been shooting in Alaska – Bears. And if you want to get an early look at it, be sure to pick up the Wings of Life Blu-ray.
The “Wings of Life” Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a sneak peek at Disneynature’s 2014 big-screen adventure “Bears.” In an epic story of breathtaking scale set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, the film, which is currently in production, follows two mother grizzly bears as they impart life lessons to their impressionable young cubs.
After that, who knows?
All I know is, I do hope that Disneynature continues to deliver. While I’m not a fan of some of the political messages that some of these have, I love the chance to see breathtaking scenery and incredible animals in their natural environments. It’s part of why I also love going to the Zoo wherever I travel.
My hope is that they do a film called The Outback or something like that, which could focus on Australian animals. There could also be a great one with New Zealand specific animals like the Kiwi. What other animals would you like to see in future Disneynature films?