ORF Universum Documentaries

ORF Universum Documentaries
Be inspired by ORF Universum documentaries and their complex world of nature, science and new technologies. Universum, a complex world of nature, science, new technologies created by mankind and a colorful mix of wildlife, ancient civilizations, history and adventure.
  • Watch ORF Universum Documentaries Season 1

    • Episode 121

      Extreme: Light and Dark

      aired: Wed, Dec 12, 2012

      Humans prefer moderation; neither too hot nor too cold, neither too light nor too dark. Earth doesn’t cater to our preferences. Our planet offers an abundance of extreme conditions, and people everywhere have had to learn to adapt to their surroundings.

    • Episode 120

      Ships of the Desert

      aired: Wed, Oct 3, 2012

      Camels are masters of the art of survival. They can go for up to ten months without a drop of water, then drink 200 liters in only 15 minutes, while their humps store fat to keep hunger at bay. But there's much more to them than that.

    • Episode 119

      Hyena: Queen of the Masai Mara

      aired: Mon, Oct 8, 2012

      The unusual portrait of a much maligned hunter, the hyena - a dramatic story built around the competition for prey and territory and the fight for survival. The setting is Kenya's legendary Masai Mara.

    • Episode 118

      Keepers of the Ark: Life for Animals

      aired: Mon, Apr 15, 2013

      A baby bat sleeps peacefully, hanging from the washing line in the living room. A muscular young cheetah quits his enclosure - or he will kill the female who has come to mate with him.

    • Episode 107

      Sudan - the Nubian Caravans

      aired: Tue, Apr 24, 2001

      Sudan, the biggest country in Africa. In the south the Nile with its feeder rivers dominates an almost impenetrable swamp landscape.

    • Episode 106

      Typhoon Island - Taiwan

      aired: Fri, Aug 20, 2004

      The spectacular island of Taiwan has long been buffeted by violent elemental forces, and a recent hurricane of human development has rocked it to its core.

    • Episode 105

      Sahara - the English Patient's Desert

      aired: Fri, Jul 19, 2002

      The Sahara, one of the world's most extreme, hostile regions, is the paragon of a desert.

    • Episode 104

      O2 - a Molecule That Made Our World

      aired: Mon, Mar 10, 2008

      Using latest CGI combined with live-action reconstructions, this film follows the journey of a molecule of oxygen, an adventure that takes place over a span of thousands of millions of years.

    • Episode 103

      Tales from the Vienna Woods

      aired: Sat, Oct 30, 1999

      Vienna is the world's only metropolis with a large, continuous forest area in its immediate vicinity - the Vienna Woods, an area blessed with an unexpected wealth of animal and plant life.

    • Episode 102

      Link With the Lynx

      aired: Thu, Jun 17, 2010

      With large tufted ears, a short tail and a trusting look, one could almost believe that lynxes are just big cats.

    • Episode 100

      Return of the Bald Ibis

      aired: Tue, Jun 12, 2007

      Four years ago a group of zoologists ventured out to indulge into a truly crazy adventure.

    • Episode 99

      Iceland: Realm of the Gods

      aired: Thu, May 27, 1999

      The oldest path of mankind is one that combines legend and reality. In Iceland more so than anywhere else, natural forces have formed both the landscape and the fantasy of its people.

    • Episode 98

      Yucatan: In the Kingdom of the Jaguar God

      aired: Fri, Nov 18, 2005

      The Central American peninsula of Yucatan is famous for its fascinating wildlife and exotic flora and fauna.

    • Episode 97

      Arlberg: the Hidden Paradise

      aired: Mon, Sep 13, 2010

      Snow masses pile up in abundance on the deep snow-covered slopes. The wind has created bizarre snowdrifts on the steep mountain ridges, and further below, the Swiss pine carry the weight of this sparkling splendor.

    • Episode 96

      Alpine Meltdown

      aired: Mon, Jul 11, 2011

      The climate is changing. According to predictions of climatologists, within 100 years it will be around 5 to 8 degrees C warmer in the alpine region than today.

    • Episode 94

      Secrets of the Flooded Forest: Danube National Park

      aired: Sun, Aug 1, 2010

      After beginning in Vienna, the Danube riverbank forests extend to the gates of Bratislava, linking the two capitals like a green ribbon, forming a unique wildlife habitat in the heart of Europe.

    • Episode 93

      Secrets of the Adriatic

      aired: Mon, Jul 14, 2003

      For a long time, the Adriatic Sea used to be Central Europe's only link to the orient.

    • Episode 91

      Vienna's Forests

      aired: Sat, Sep 24, 2005

      Vienna?s forests make a visual impact on the city?s scenery ? being a source of life and sanctuary at the same time.

    • Episode 90

      Wild Balkans

      aired: Mon, Oct 12, 2009

      Wolves hunt their prey in the valleys between high-ranging dunes, bears and lynxes wander through dense primeval forest, and the big lakes are a magnet for hundreds of bird species.

    • Episode 89

      Puszta - Land of Salt and Sand

      aired: Fri, Aug 23, 2002

      Less than an hour's drive south of Hungary's capital Budapest, Central Europe's last and only wandering sand dunes surprise the traveller.

    • Episode 88

      Nature Tech, Part 3

      aired: Wed, May 3, 2006

      Nature has to be efficient in the way it processes information and uses energy so when scientists began to look at nature with biomimetic eyes, it's not surprising that they started to see entirely new visions for our future.

    • Episode 87

      Nature Tech, Part 2

      aired: Thu, Apr 27, 2006

      Nature invented a whole range of hi-tec materials long before we invented ceramics and plastics. And not only are they often better, but nature has also invented ingenious ways of building with them.

    • Episode 86

      Nature Tech, Part 1

      aired: Thu, Apr 20, 2006

      Most animals, and even a few plants, move. They swim, walk, run or fly in a wide range of ways, and in this programme we look at how designers of planes, cars and robots have found inspiration in nature.

    • Episode 85

      Time Limits

      aired: Thu, Jun 14, 2007

      We perceive time in terms of seconds - the length of a heartbeat.

    • Episode 84

      Pielach: The Enchanted Valley

      aired: Thu, Aug 17, 2006

      The Pielach, with a length of 67.5 km, is a little known river at the foothills of the Alps. Though biologically speaking, flowing through hidden natural treasures, it is one of Austria's most valuable running waters.

    • Episode 83

      Vienna's Water

      aired: Wed, May 19, 2010

      The city of Vienna is world famous for its position on the River Danube.

    • Episode 82

      Mountains in The Sun

      aired: Mon, Nov 3, 2008

      The landscape of southern Lower Austria is characterised by the last undulations of the Alps.

    • Episode 81

      Limits of Perception

      aired: Tue, May 15, 2001

      More than 800 years ago, work started on a magnificent cathedral in Vienna.

    • Episode 80

      The Four Alps

      aired: Mon, Jul 2, 2007

      For as long as there has been human memory we have been fascinated by mountains.

    • Episode 79

      High Tatras: A Wilderness Frozen in Time

      aired: Tue, Dec 4, 2007

      The High Tatras are considered a National Park in Slovakia.

    • Episode 78

      The Four Alps

      aired: Tue, Aug 5, 2003

      Vienna's Danube Island, a river island artificially created some 20 years ago, has become a recreational retreat for tens of thousands of city dwellers.

    • Episode 77

      The Isle

      aired: Tue, Aug 5, 2003

      The Austrian region of Hallstatt-Dachstein features breathtaking landscapes, crystal clear lakes and a deep historic relevance.

    • Episode 76

      Land of Crystal Waters

      aired: Thu, Feb 14, 2008

      In the very heart of Europe, precisely in the center of Austria, lies one of the most marvellous spots of the Alps: a woodland, water and mountain wilderness that shuns no comparison.

    • Episode 75

      In Bed With Wolves: Part 3

      aired: Fri, Aug 6, 2010

      What is the difference between the domestic dog and the wolf if both of them have been raised under the same conditions?

    • Episode 74

      In Bed With Wolves: Part 2

      aired: Tue, Jul 27, 2010

      What is the difference between the domestic dog and the wolf if both of them have been raised under the same conditions?

    • Episode 73

      Teaming up With Wolves: Part 1

      aired: Tue, Jun 15, 2010

      What is the difference between the domestic dog and the wolf if both of them have been raised under the same conditions? Researchers Friederike Range, Zsofia Viranyi and Professor Kurt Kotrschal have taken up the task of raising a pack of wolves by hand.

    • Episode 72

      Bohemian Forest - Wilderness in the Heart of Europe

      aired: Sat, Feb 19, 2000

      The Bohemian Forest is a region in the heart of Europe that is as typical of Europe as possible.

    • Episode 71

      The Black Mountain

      aired: Fri, Aug 18, 2000

      When cloud banks swallow the rock and make valleys disappear, the sky draws menacingly close.Then, the sun tears away that curtain and jagged rocks appear, an iron cross gracing their peak.

    • Episode 70

      Night of the Salamander

      aired: Mon, Jan 1, 2001

      To enter the exotic unfamiliar world of salamanders, it's often just a short trip down the road.

    • Episode 68

      The Living Graveyard

      aired: Fri, Apr 8, 2005

      Anyone who dares to visit this sinister place at night needs strong nerves. The world of the dead shows great signs of life: martens lurk behind gravestones, bats hunt in the dim moonlight, and wild cats scuffle between grave candles.

    • Episode 67

      Afghanistan: The Lost Mines of the Pharaohs

      aired: Sat, Mar 23, 2002

      Afghanistan isone of the most remote and dangerous countries in the world. Yet for the last 20 years, through the turmoil of Russian invasion, retaliation, civil war and religious jihad, an American has traveled the country in search of precious stones.

    • Episode 66

      The Valley at the Border

      aired: Mon, Feb 14, 2000

      The Thaya River flows quietly through the deep incision of the valley, that in winter, frequently sees only a few minutes of the warming rays from the low-lying sun.

    • Episode 65

      Blue Danube, Black Sea

      aired: Sun, Jun 7, 1998

      The delta of the river Danube is Europe's best kept secret. The place is vast; the 5,640 square km of lakes, channels and reeds are home to a huge array of animals.

    • Episode 64

      The Iron Forest

      aired: Wed, Mar 25, 1998

      The youngest of Austria's national parks is also the country's biggest continuous forest area. Ten million trees make the labyrinthine, fissured karst formations of the Reichraming and Sensen mountain ranges an endless green wilderness.

    • Episode 62

      The Otter's Trail

      aired: Wed, Nov 11, 1998

      During the mid-80s, zoologists still regarded the European otter as a species on the verge of extinction. What they did not take into consideration was the fact that the shy aquatic animals are extremely adaptable.

    • Episode 61

      Carnuntum: Metropolis in the Land of the Barbarians

      aired: Sat, May 27, 2006

      According to accounts by the Roman historian Paterculus, in the year 6 A.D. a Roman army under Tiberius put up its winter camp in the Celtic Noricum.

    • Episode 59

      Let It Snow!

      aired: Tue, May 6, 2008

      "Snow is snow is snow" one might be tempted to say. Yet people in the Arctic have hundred of different names for snow while other cultures have never seen it.

    • Episode 58

      Genepool of the Alps

      aired: Mon, Aug 9, 2010

      The Alpine Zoo in Innsbruck is unique in many ways. Situated at 750 metres above sea level, it is regarded as Europe?s highest-altitude zoo.

    • Episode 57

      From Valley Deep to Mountain High

      aired: Sat, May 22, 2010

      In the near future, some of the settlement areas will become uninhabitable, and new land will need to be tapped into because of climate change.

    • Episode 56

      Power of the Rainbow

      aired: Sat, Mar 14, 1998

      The beauty of nature's colours only becomes visible in sunlight. The various colours appear when light divides. If sunlight refracts when it hits raindrops, the colourful miracle of the rainbow is created.

    • Episode 54

      The Valley of the Ravens

      aired: Wed, Sep 17, 1997

      At the edge of the Dead Mountains lies an enchanting, sparsely populated area: the inner Alm Valley. Especially in winter up to 120 half-grown ravens gather in the area around the wild animal park to steal food.

    • Episode 53

      Voynich Code: The Worlds Most Mysterious Manuscript

      aired: Tue, Nov 30, 2010

      It is the world's most mysterious manuscript. A book, written by an unknown author, illustrated with pictures that are as bizarre as they are puzzling and written in a language that even the best cryptographers have been unable to decode.

    • Episode 52

      Kamp: A River for All Senses

      aired: Sat, Mar 25, 2006

      Far from being a long, let alone a wide river, the waters of the Kamp river feed one of the most fascinating valley landscapes of Lower Austria.

    • Episode 51

      The Flight of the Bald Ibis

      aired: Thu, Apr 17, 2003

      Teaching migrating birds to migrate may sound like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. But behind this curious-looking project is the story of a species persecuted to the point of total extinction in Europe.

    • Episode 50

      The Karst: Life Between Heaven and Hell

      aired: Tue, Oct 6, 2009

      A scraggy land of harsh beauty but full of deception as well. This film explores the hidden charms of the stony cliffs along the Gulf of Trieste, the original home of the white horses from Lipica.

    • Episode 48

      Lake Woerthersee - Where Man and Nature Meet

      aired: Fri, Dec 31, 2010

      Lake Woerthersee in the Austrian state of Carinthia is not only one of the most beautiful lakes in Austria, but also, in the truest sense of the phrase an "internationally famous stretch of water."

    • Episode 47

      From Drought to Deluge

      aired: Fri, Dec 31, 2010

      In the 21st century, the average rainfall will increase and likewise its intensity.

    • Episode 46

      Sky Hunters - the World of the Dragonfly

      aired: Fri, Jan 1, 2010

      They hover over ponds and pools and inhabit the banks of rivers and streams. With their dazzling metallic colours and unique ways of flying they are truly jewels of the air.

    • Episode 45

      Sea of Creepy Monsters

      aired: Thu, Dec 31, 2009

      The Lembeh strait in the northern part of the Idonesian island of Sulawesi is a unique hotspot of marine biodiversity.

    • Episode 38

      Magic of the Mountains

      aired: Wed, Dec 31, 2008

      This is the story of a land, where forces of nature are at play - beyond all things that a human can ever dominate or be able to conquer.

    • Episode 36

      From Freezer to Furnace

      aired: Tue, Jan 1, 2008

      This is a journey to the hottest and coldest places on earth, where people go about their everyday lives under extreme conditions - and even enjoy it.

    • Episode 34

      The Treasury - Viennas Natural History Museum

      aired: Mon, Dec 31, 2007

      For the world famous newspaper, the "Sunday Times", an English team of museum specialists determined the ten best museums of this world - Austria's Natural History Museum of Vienna was within the top ten.

    • Episode 30

      Ol Man River Mississippi

      aired: Sun, Dec 31, 2006

      Perhaps the best known river on the planet, made famous by writers like Mark Twain, by the romance of the steamboat age and by the blues music spawned along its banks, Ol Man River still hides many secrets.

    • Episode 29

      Tasmania - Paradise at the End of the World

      aired: Sun, Dec 31, 2006

      It was only two hundred years ago that Tasmania was a British colony known as Van Diemens Land and so remote that its only use was as a penal settlement for the most hardened criminals.

    • Episode 28

      Napoli Dogs

      aired: Sat, Dec 31, 2005

      A soap opera set in the charming harbour side of Naples. More resembling a feature film than a documentary we stylishly will follow the fate of a pack of street dogs as they struggle for survival. Love affairs and gang raids guaranteed!

    • Episode 27

      Wild Mongolia

      aired: Sat, Dec 31, 2005

      One of the most stunning, untouched landscapes on earth is found in the heartland of Asia: stretching from the impenetrable forests of Siberia in the North to the Chinese wall in the South and touching the horizon in the distance.

    • Episode 26

      Baja - The Other California

      aired: Fri, Dec 31, 2004

      Baja California stretches 750 miles southwards from its famous neighbour, the State of California and is a 1000 kilometers long peninsula that sticks out into the Pacific.

    • Episode 25


      aired: Fri, Dec 31, 2004

      Namaqualand is the setting for an annual wildlife fairytale. Every year in the narrow window between the cold wet winter and scorchingly-hot, dry summer, the largest floral canvas on our planet reaches a brief, but magnificent crescendo.

    • Episode 20

      Cuba - Wild Island of the Caribbean

      aired: Wed, Dec 31, 2003

      Cuba is a tropical paradise. It is the largest and yet least known island in the Caribbean. In recent years it has become famous for its old American cars, Fidel Castro's brand of communism, cigars and rum.

    • Episode 18


      aired: Wed, Dec 31, 2003

      A condemned prisoner is led down a cold stone corridor, lit only by torches, to a dark chamber where his life will end. He will die when the vital energy-producing chemical machinery inside each and every one of his cells is blocked by a complex reaction.

    • Episode 17

      Ants - Natures Secret Power

      aired: Wed, Dec 31, 2003

      UNIVERSUM cameraman Wolfgang Thaler and Bert Hoelldobler, a leading authority on ants, bring us face-to-face with the mysterious world of these social insects.

    • Episode 16

      Alpine Lakes - Quiet Beauty

      aired: Wed, Jan 1, 2003

      Springs, streams, ponds, lakes and rivers have forged our landscape over thousands of years.

    • Episode 11

      Umbria: From Wreck to Reef

      aired: Tue, Jul 24, 2001

      On June 10, 1940, the Umbria, an Italian man-of-war, was scuttled in the Red Sea near Port Sudan. Tons of ammunition, 300.000 bombs and air mines, military trucks, motorcycles and silver coins sank to the bottom of the sea.

    • Episode 9

      Trees of Tempting Fruit

      aired: Sun, Dec 31, 2000

      The Mostviertel, Austria's pear country, stretches from the river Danube to the Alps, right in the heart of Austria.

    • Episode 8

      Ancient Amazon

      aired: Mon, Jul 24, 2000

      Through an expedition to seek proof in support of the theory that one hundred and thirty million years ago the original source of the Amazon was located in the Ounianga Kébir lake.

    • Episode 6

      The Alps: Realm of the Golden Eagle, Part 2

      aired: Fri, Dec 31, 1999

      1.200 kilometers long, massive chains of rock form the most famous mountain range of the world. There between stretching in a wide arch lies a fascinating world.

    • Episode 2

      Messengers of the Gods

      aired: Wed, Jan 1, 1997

      As the Alps have pushed skyward for millions of years, tossing up wave crests of rock like a churning sea, an ancient high plateau in their very midst has remained steadfast and calm.

    • Episode 1

      Tough at the Top

      aired: Sun, Dec 31, 1995

      The rising tide of our civilization has not yet flooded the last peaks of the Alps. The Hohe Tauern mountain range is a high Alpine wilderness harbouring natural treasures that many people hardly know about, even from hearsay.

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