The Queen's Garden (2014) is a bit of a surprise. Behind the walls at Buckingham Palace lies an enormous garden with great varieties of flora and fauna in the center of the largest city in Europe. This PBS documentary looks at a full year in this garden from one summer to the next, showing the garden's full splendor--and it is splendid. The documentary consists mainly of time-lapse footage of flowers blooming, clouds flying by, and even of the transformation of a butterfly. How much of this was stock footage and how much was original to this production, one could not say, but it looked mostly to be unique. The Queen's Garden was a lovely bit of light documentary fare without ever feeling frothy or pointless.
The one criticism one might make is that the DVD simply cannot technically convey the crisp beauty this footage clearly has to offer. If you look for it, you can easily discern the visual crush that comes along with its down-scaling. On HD television, I'm certain the program was lush and awesome. The cinematography was surprisingly sophisticated with much craning and close-up footage. At one point a nature photographer puts up camera traps and specially equipped bird houses that capture some very well lit scenes along with one slightly spooky predator. The reason this show doesn't feel as silly as one might expect is because it packs in the contents of three different documentaries. That is to say, the ever voracious programer would typically thin out such a production to cover as many hours as possible. There's one segment where a team of scientists are studying the waggle dancing--I had to find a place to put this in--which is where the bees shimmy at each other to communicate where to get pollen. These guys watch a screen and note these dances and decipher them. What a strange level of specificity to a film on Buckingham Palace's garden. That's the level of this show.
There are no bonus features.
"The Queen's Garden" is on sale March 3, 2015 and is not rated. Documentary. Directed by Martin Williams.