Follow Genre: Documentary
Director: Martin Williams
Distributor: TDM Entertainment
Duration: 205 minutes

Kingdom of Plants (DVD) – Documentary Review

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Good: Interesting insight in the history of plants, stunning photography
Bad: A lot of nice facts you'll quikcly forget
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World’s most famous naturalist has returned to the plant kingdom to bring use more extremely detailed images of the world of plants. Sir David Attenborough has been called a national treasure in England and in this new series he is proving us why this is the case. With stunning imagery and detailed explanations, we are given insight into how plants became the green leafy things we know today. In the three part series, Kingdom of Plants, sir Attenborough guides us through all sorts of different species and their special trademarks.

kingdom-of-plants-bannerFor this new undertaking, sir David Attenborough has spent a year in the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, in England. The Royal Gardens are a pretty unique location, since the institution has made it its life goal to collect every plant in the world. They currently have collected over 30.000 different species, something sir Attenborough and his crew gladly take advantage of. The documentary is made out of three different episodes, each focusing on a certain aspect of the history and evolution of plants.

The first DVD contains the episode Life in the Wet Zone, which details the history behind plants. During this episode, we follow the creation history of plants in general. We see how the first plants lived under water, how they conquered land and how they made life for all the other animals possible. The learning continues when we go to the second episode, Solving the Secrets, in which we are shown how different species of plants each have found a different answer to reproduction. The original and complex system of reproduction that some plants have created will amaze you. We also learn of the somewhat symbiotic relationship between certain plants and certain animals, in order reproduce even better. The last episode, Survival, gives us more information about the defensive capabilities of certain plants. Some plants must survive in harsh conditions and have found cool tricks to keep on living. The arsenal of weapons that some plants have to defend themselves from their environment is quite unique and amazing.

kingdom-of-plants-1Sir Attenborough is presenting the show himself, meaning that you’ll see him walking around the greenhouses of Kew. His interaction with the plants is wonderful, as you can see his constant amazement with nature. Sir Attenborough is a person who is fascinated by his work and this is clear in every scene that he is in, the passion for science is splashing from the screen. Unfortunately, it also shows that our favorite documentary host is getting quite old. Seeing him walk on stairs feels like torture (for him) and you just want the old man to take a seat and relax.

Technology wise, this is a series that is far above everything else. The techniques used to portray the world of plants is absolutely the best there is and the resulting film is at times stunning. The high definition time-lapse of a flower growing or trapping an insect is shown in an amazing level of detail. By doing so, sir Attenborough and his crew achieve something quite remarkable: he demonstrates that plants are living creatures, with their own goals. Seeing plants battle of a place in the sun, having close bonds to insects that help them and creating strategies against enemies really creates a sort of character. By having these highly detailed images, sir Attenborough shows us an alien world, a micro-cosmos with its own rules and history. You would almost forget that you are looking at plants and not some strange exotic animal.

kingdom-of-plants-2Kingdom of Plants offers, besides the three interesting and educational episodes, something more. It allows us a glimpse behind the curtain, with a making of. In this making of, we get to see how the camera men got their amazing shots. For certain shots, this is the combination of patience, skill and even some luck, for others there’s a slight amount of trickery involved, going as far as combining two separate shots into one. It kind of destroys the magic for a couple of scenes, but makes other scenes even more impressive. Unfortunately for non-English speakers, this behind the scenes isn’t subtitled.

Lastly, the main star of Kingdom of Plants isn’t sir Attenborough nor the plants. It’s Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew. It is truly the perfect location to create a documentary about plants. Kew also is home of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, which also gets its tale told in the series. Basically it is an attempt to collect and classify all the different seeds in the world, in order to save them from extinction. It’s similar to the attempt to save endangered animals, but than with plants.


Like just about every documentary spearheaded by sir David Attenborough, Kingdom of Plants offers a combination between highly interesting facts and beautiful cinematography. While it might be a lot of information to process, sir Attenborough does his best to convey it in the simplest terms possible, making tolerable even for those with a small attention span.


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Kingdom of Plants (DVD) - Documentary Review, 1.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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