San Sebastian International Film Festival

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Alistair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, two veterans of the BBC school of natural history docus ("Deep Blue", about life under the waves, and the BAFTA-nominated "Life of Mammals"), tell the story of global warming with state-of-the-art high def cameras and spell-binding photography yet spare us a storm of statistics. "Earth" does not relate anything not already known about how the globe is heating up, but the ingenuity of the filmmaking should connect with global audiences.

"Earth" goes through a year on the planet, examining how global warming affects the migration patterns of humpback whales, the hunting abilities of polar bears, the migration of cranes over the Himalayas and the long march the elephants across a parched Africa to reach a seasonal flood in the south.

Fothergill and Linfield follow the stories of a family of polar bears, a mother humpback whale and her offspring and an elephant and her calf. If the krill that feed the humpback die off, so will the whales. If the polar bear has no ice to hunt upon, it will die too. Even the great white shark is important at the top of the feeding chain yet, according to the filmmakers, merciless hunting has their numbers in "freefall".

Fothergill and Linfield make an unabashed appeal to audience weakness for cute animals. They delight at watching duck chicks launch their maiden flights in slow motion or baboons churlishly crossing a marsh in Africa. The birds of paradise in New Guinea preen better than any Hollywood star on the red carpet.

Patrick Stewart in an informative but friendly tone provides the narration. The statistics involved in the filmmaking are mind-boggling: 4,500 days of shooting with 30 camera teams in more than 200 locations around the world at a budget of $47 million.

Greenlight Media AG, BBC Worldwide
Director: Alistair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Writers: Lelsie Megahey, Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Producers: Alix Tidmarsh, Sophokles Tasiouslis
Directors of photography: Andrew Anderson, Doug Anderson, Doug Allan, Paul Atkins, Barrie Britton, Richard Burton, Simon Carroll, Rod Clarke, Martyn Colbeck, Justin Evans, Wade Fairley, Ted Giffords, Mike Holding, Mike Kelem, Simon King, Toshihiro Muta, Justin Maguire, Didier Noiret, Andrew Penniket, Rick Rosenthal, Adam Ravetch, Tim Shepherd, Andrew Shillabeer, Peter Scoones, Warwick Sloss, Paul Stewart, Gavin Thurston, Jeff Turner, Nick Turner, Jon Waters
Voiceover: Patrick Stewart
Music: George Fenton
Editing: Mark Elsbury
Running time -- 99 minutes
No MPAA rating