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I was in awe watching the beautiful series shown recently on TV where comedian Billy Connolly went on an epic journey, beginning in Nova Scotia on the East Coast of Canada, and travelling across the North West Passage to his final destination, Vancouver Island.
The series has been made into a DVD set which you can purchase on Amazon for £12.48. The set consists of two DVDs and has a running time of 92 minutes.
The collection in my opinion takes you on a journey which will probably impact you more than you could ever imagine. Whether or not you like the style, or the humour of Billy Connolly, really is not particularly relevant in this series, as he certainly tones down a lot of his more "on the edge" humour. This does, however, reappear in the extra DVD included in the set, but the main episodes I feel have the best part of his humour, without the explicit language which he is renowned for. In actual fact this is an extremely touching journey at times, where he is shown to be emotionally affected by the places, and the people he meets.
The epic journey begins in Halifax, Nova Scotia and as he travels through the East Coast he treats us to some amazing scenery. The Cabot trail, a particular favourite, with one of the most amazing drives in the world, which Billy does on a motorbike. He looks in awe at the amazing landscape making the comment "Don't say I never take you anywhere"
From here he goes onto the remote parts of Newfoundland, and onto Baffin Island where the cultural differences emerge between the people and himself. He witnesses the savage killing of a seal, which troubles him immensely.He understands this is vital to the survival of these people, but he also knows how safe and comfortable he is, as he purchases food from stores and not from hunting. I have to say this is extremely sensitively portrayed, as I showed the DVD set to my vegan daughter who loves Canada as much as I do. She was much more accepting of this part of the series, with the realisation that in these remote outposts hunting really is for survival, and is arguably more ethical than the waste we have here in major supermarkets.
He camps under the stars with bear spray in hand, in case some should appear, and he flies on twin prop aircraft to some of the remote landscapes in the north of Canada. He meets amazing people, and is affected deeply by their sincerity and their way of life.
I think the main theme of this journey is the crossing of the North West Passage which was until recent years unchartered and impassable. He joins a cruise through the arctic, and sees Polar bears and experiences the remote and barren areas, so far away from the rest of civilisation. He sees ice bergs as "giant meringues" and he takes us through some awe inspiring scenery.
He then travels onto Tuktoyaktuk where he joins the Demster highway travelling along the road so frequently the subject of the famous series," The Ice Road truckers." From here he travels south eventaully arriving in Vancouver island.
If you love amazing places and have always wanted to see what Northern Canada is like then these DVDs will delight. The scenery is breathtaking, and the programme glides along slowly so that you feel you have been given the chance to stop and contemplate some of the wildest landscapes in the world. Billy's friendly and endearing nature will make you feel as if you have been personally invited to join him.
For me the bonus DVD doesn't add anything to this. It reverts back to allowing him to once again fall into his more explicit language and humour, which I personally feel detracts from the beauty and emotional voyage he has taken us on. I don't find myself wanting to look back at this, and see it as an opportunity for him to almost belittle the main travel episodes, which are appealing and life changing in themselves.
For this reason I have to give the series 3* which otherwise would for me anyway be approaching 5* It isn't that I am criticising his explicit language, as I know many find him entertaining, it is just that the main part of this set is a tribute to the people, the landscape and the harsh way of life this part of the world demands, and for me he deals with this is a sensitive and though proving manner. Yes he slips in humour, but it is appropriate, and it is with respect to the people and their way of life. The bonus DVD is almost like he has been told "ok you can be yourself now", and somehow this is a very strange addition to something which is otherwise sincere, and in my opinion really worthy of an award.
The main part of this is an epic journey and one which show you exactly what life is like in these remote and snow filled places, where the only means of transport is by plane, and where the iPod and the internet are a million miles away from the day to day need to survive literally hand to mouth.