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"The Greatest Places" shows world's diverse geography

“The Greatest Places” is now showing at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego. While it lacks structure even by the standards of a documentary, it provides separate segments for seven of the world’s geographic wonders.

“The Greatest Places” features sites from four continents. Madagascar, the Namib Desert, and the Okavango Delta are in Africa; the Amazon River and Iguazu Falls are in South America; the Himalayan foothills in Tibet are part of Asia, and Greenland is considered to be in Europe.

The combination of water and land features and the mix of desert, tropical, mountainous, and Arctic locations create a diversity which might not necessarily be the

world’s seven greatest natural wonders but keep the viewer from being lulled into repetitiveness.

While some nature films eschew human intervention, “The Greatest Places” balances human activity with indigenous plant and animal presence. In the case of Madagascar, an island separated from the rest of Africa, that isolation allowed certain species to survive and plants and animals found nowhere else in the world are part of that land’s natural beauty.

In Greenland, human ingenuity allows for travel across the icy territory as well as survival on the settlement. The terrain of the Namib Desert is more suitable for native insects than for visiting ships which come too close to the western African shore. The Amazon is used by animals and South American people alike. The inhabitants of Tibet are dependent upon the yak but also celebratory of the blessings of their Buddhist faith.

Because the film is divided into separate segments for each of the seven places, each segment is only a few minutes long. To some extent, it’s a recap of a few previous Fleet Science Center films in which some of those places received a full feature.

“Amazon” focused on the Amazon river and its watershed; “Journey Into Amazing Caves” included a different part of Greenland; Himalayan monastery activity was also present in “Everest” and scenes from the Okavango Delta look similar to those in “Roar: Lions of the Kalahari.”

If a viewer has seen those other films, “The Greatest Places” can be a reminder of those documentaries. If the footage in “The Greatest Places” is new material for the viewer, it can be used as a teaser for the other films. To some extent “The Greatest

Places” tries to include too much in a single film. But it spurs interest in more detailed information about the individual places.

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