My kids expected another silly cartoon as we settled in to watch Disneynature: EARTH on DVD, but their quiet focus told me that, even without talking zebras, the night’s selection had been a hit.

We had skipped EARTH when it first appeared in the movie theaters back in April because we already own the 5-DVD collection of BBC’s Planet Earth, whose remarkable footage was shot at the same time. I assumed that my kids would be bored. But it turns out that Disney does a great job of editing the footage down to a manageable 90 minutes, and weaving it into such a compelling storyline about three animal families that the kids didn’t mind if they’d seen a few scenes before.

There are plenty of LOL moments in EARTH (the baby birds jumping out of the tree is priceless) and jaw-dropping shots that make you wonder how in the world did they get that shot? But there are other, more dramatic scenes–think a wolf stalking a caribou–which will have the kids quietly asking, “what happens next?” Those scenes are intense, not gruesome, but there’s nothing Disnefied about them. If you are a softie like me, you’ll find yourself wiping away tears more than once.

Those few moments of sadness, however, are small payment for such a visually stunning experience and incredible introduction to the way our ecology works. Just ask my kids.

Disneynature: EARTH is now available on Blu-ray + DVD at our affiliate Amazon.

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