Nature (1982– )
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Triumph of Life: The Four Billion Year War 

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George Page ...
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14 January 2001 (USA)  »

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6 hour Nature series examines the history of life on Earth
14 July 2013 | by See all my reviews

Though this series was produced late in the 20th century, its educational value will persist well into the 21st.

"The Triumph of Life" examines life on our planet with artists' renderings depicting prehistoric life and actual film footage of contemporary life in the wild.

Six episodes of about 50 minutes each comprise this series. Each episode focuses on key aspects of the evolutionary process. The first is called "The 4 billion year war" and describes the overall concept of life forms competing for survival.

Episode 2 is "The Mating Game" and describes how sexual reproduction plays a fundamental role in evolution. The 3rd, "The Eternal Arms Race", shows how the abilities to hunt and attack vs. those to escape or defend must improve for species to survive.

The 4th program is "Winning Teams". It examines the role that cooperation, not just within species but between them, provides advantages in the struggle to live. Number 5, "The Brain Game", examines how increased intelligence and cognitive ability contribute to the success of animals.

The 6th episode, "The Survivors", discusses why today's plants and animals have succeeded while most species have become extinct. "The Survivors" also contemplates what the future may hold for life on this planet.

This "Nature" series deserves high marks for every aspect of its production. The overall concept is brilliant, and each episode is clear, cogent, and entertaining. Its organization is very effective in telling the story. It is not surprising the series required three years to make, given the remarkable footage of animals in the wild which serves to illustrate the narrative.

"Triumph of Life" does a marvelous job of conveying how life evolves through competition, but it does more than explain evolution. What I found to be amazing about this series is how watching it changed the way I view the nature of life. It provided me with a much clearer, deeper, and more coherent understanding of what is going on, and that is priceless.


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