Life in the Freezer: The complete series [BBC DVD]

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A study of the seasonal cycle of Antarctica, the first of Attenborough's specialised surveys following his major trilogy that began with Life on Earth.


One and a half times the size of the United States and its annual population reaches only 800 people. Three quarters of the world's freshwater wrap it with a layer of ice so thick that conceals mountain ranges as vast as the Alps. And with temperatures below -70° C and winds of 120 miles per hour, Antarctica is the coldest and most lonely place on earth.

But it is also a place of majestic beauty that accommodates many surprising and varied species of wildlife. The series "Life in the Freezer" -presented by Sir David Attenborough- reveals incomparable standards of natural history to mark the seasonal cycle of the great Antarctic, from the winter months, when its surface nearly doubles from the ice formations to the short summer when the battle of reproduction rages.

The series won (and was nominated for) the following awards:

Awards won:

• BAFTA TV Award for Best Film or Video Photography (Factual)

Nominated for:

• BAFTA TV Award for Best Factual Series
• BAFTA TV Award for Best Film or Video Editor (Factual)
• BAFTA TV Award for Best Original Television Music

The series was made in conjunction with The National Geographic Society and Lionheart International, Inc. The 6 episodes of the series are presented in a box set of 2 DVD discs. See the list of episodes and other details under Additional information.

Read full description of the series and its episodes in Wikipedia

We have given this DVD box set a 3-star rather than 4-star rating because a small part of one of the plastic DVD holders is cracked. The fault can be seen in the More pictures section.

This movie comes from our personal collection and only one piece is available

DVD rating
Rating - Very Good
Very Good: a well-cared-for DVD that has been seen, but remains in great condition. The film is complete, without interruption, and does not skip. The box may show limited signs of wear, as may the liner notes.


David Attenborough (presenter)


Colour, PAL

Main soundtrack

English or Greek (selectable)
Dolby Digital 2.0


OFF or Greek (selectable)


Region 1  Region 2  Region 3  Region 4  Region 5  Region 6

Aspect ratio


Number of discs





2 Entertain Video

Release date

16 September 2002 in the U.K.

Run time

174 minutes (2 hours 54 mins)



List of episodes

Disc 1

Episode 1: The Bountiful Sea

Penguins, whales and seals are shown feeding in the Southern Ocean. Many of them feed on the abundant krill (which in turn feed on phytoplankton and ice-algae). Humpback whales are shown catching krill through sophisticated cooperation, by creating spiralling curtains of air bubbles that drive the krill into their center, where the whales can then catch them by surging upwards in the middle of the spiral.

Episode 2: The Ice Retreats

Elephant seals are the first animals to return to the beaches of the subantarctic islands in spring, forming large breeding colonies, where the males fight fierce battles to gain and retain permanent access to a large number of females. They mate with the females as soon as they are receptive again. Millions of Macaroni Penguins form huge colonies on the islands to breed.

Episode 3: The Race to Breed

Almost all life in the region breeds in summer. A growing colony of fur seals on a beach on South Georgia resembles that of elephant seals shown in the previous episode. The pups grow fast on the rich, fatty milk provided by their mothers and double their weight in just sixty days. As the females become sexually available, the mating season begins. Males try to claim territory and mate with females. Like elephant seals, fur seals fiercely attack all competitors.

Disc 2

Episode 1: The Door Closes

We watch the migration of most animals northwards (some from the Antarctic continent, others from the few islands surrounding it) as the continent and surrounding sea freeze over at the end of summer. It shows how young penguins often fall prey to Leopard Seals as they try to make their way across the already partially frozen water and how their stripped remains become food for isopods and meter-long nemerteans (ribbon worms). Before going to the sea, however, the adult penguins must shed their coats (moulting).

Episode 2: The Big Freeze

As almost all animal inhabitants of Antarctica are forced to migrate north, the sea underneath the frozen ice still provides a home to many specially adapted fish whose cells are protected from freezing through an "antifreeze" liquid. Many of them feed on the faeces of other animals. The most notable larger animal that does not migrate north is perhaps the Weddell Seal, which can be found as close as 1300 kilometres to the pole. Groups of seals tear holes into the ice to dive for food and come up to breathe. The females come back to the ice to give birth.

Episode 3: Footsteps in the Snow

This episode discusses the human exploration of Antarctica, in particular the mission led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, whose team died on the way back from the South Pole. It shows the scientific work in the modern human bases in Antarctica, especially Mawson Base and its observation of Adelie Penguins. The second half of the episode describes how the series was made. Most crucial was of course the camera work. To get access to the wildlife of the sea, boats, divers, suspended capsules and remotely controlled cameras mounted on inflatables were used. Particularly dangerous to divers were Leopard Seals and other predators. The film concludes that although working in Antarctica is now much easier than during the early days of exploration, human footsteps on the continent are still exceedingly rare in part because of international treaties prohibiting industrial exploitation.




  • SKU: MOV-DOC-NAT-1008

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