Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wild Canada: Only On CBC

About the brilliant new mini-series Wild Canada film maker Jeff Turner says "It could only be made for a network like CBC which is committed over the long haul."
Simply stated Wild Canada which runs over the next four weeks on CBC-TV's The Nature Of Things is a masterful look at the greatest stretch of wilderness still standing --all of it is in Canada.
The first unforgettable hour revs up Thursday night at 8 on CBC-TV.
"It took us years," laughs Turner about the work he and wife Susan put into the mammoth project. "Of course it started in script stage as we endeavoured to show everything we wanted to achieve in each hour. Getting all that actually on screen was something else."
Turner estimates the ratio of filming to final footage went as high as 500 hours to one.
"I mean we just had to get a shot of an eagle taking a newborn lamb. But we though it would be improbable until we actually got that shot. There were no retakes!"
Turner says "Most of the imafes were taken by 4K resolution cameras. These enabled us to get slow motion shots never seen before. Knockouts."
In the first hour titled "The Eternal Frontier" the Turners wanted to go back to the dawn of Canada before mankind began remaking the landscape.
Almost immediately we are overwhelmed by the images of red garter snakes who have been hibernating by the tens of thousands in gigantic limestone pockets --they are sunning themselves while the smaller males begin seeking out the larger females for procreation.
The look at mountain goats high in the Rockies remains another memorable, iconic image --I resisted the urge to freeze my DVD preview copy and watch everything again.
Part 2 which runs on March 20 tells different stories.
First up there's a look at one of the planet's greatest migrations as millions of salmon race up the western rivers of CVanada.
Equally amazing are shots of black bears high in the Arctic circle feasting on salmon in rivers warmed by underground springs --the bears are perpetually covered in ice pellets.
"It is one of the most amazing shots I have ever seen" says Turner.
Episode 3 on March 27 is titled The Heartland followed by the grand finale Ice Edge on April 3.
Turner remembers as do I when CBC had a weekly series devoted to Canada's natural wonders titled This Land. It was an early victim of the "death by a hundred cuts" which still threatens CBC's long term existence to this day.
Turner was only able to make Wild Canada because of CBC's long term commitment coupled with commitments from other broadcasters around the world.
 There's also a coffee table book written by J.B. Mackinnon and DVD and Blue-Ray editions of the series available through the CBC Shop.
Will Wild Canada be one of the last of CBC's great endeavours that includes such miniseries over the years as The National Dream,  Riel and Jalna?
CBC must soon make huge cuts to continue justifying its existence.
I'm arguing Wild Canada does all that and more.
It's the must see TV event of the spring as far as I'm concerned.
MY RATING: ****.

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