Wednesday 21 December 2016

Planet Earth II

Probably the most hyped-up documentary to grace our screens in years, ‘Planet Earth II’ - a follow-up 10 years on from ‘Planet Earth’ - is David Attenborough’s newest look at the beauty and destruction of the natural world. With each episode focusing on a particular biome (from the incredibly natural jungle to the manmade city), we are treated to a whole plethora of different animals and environments.

And it certainly doesn’t disappoint. There’s not a dull moment in this six-part series as we travel across the globe to learn just how different life is to our own in the wild, from the harsh battles the penguin families have to face on the island of Zavodovski, to the devastation that the locust swarms 300 square kilometres across cause to the vegetation across Madagascar. Some scenes bring us awe as we discover situations we never even knew existed, such as dolphins swimming in the jungles of Brazil, and others bring a tear to one’s eye, like the tragic case of the baby turtles failing to make it to the ocean due to the bright lights of the human world.
I think what makes Attenborough’s documentaries so much better than your standard nature watch is the incredible storytelling involved – the stories he crafts makes you care about each animal, whether predator or prey. We only see him once or twice throughout the whole series, yet his narration is brilliant as always, and highlights the real struggles of the animal kingdom that seem so far away from the lives we lead in our human bubble.
A really great feature that was added on to the last 20 minutes of each episode was ‘Planet Earth II: Diaries’, where we got to watch the crew go the extreme lengths necessary in order to get some of the most astounding shots. I held my breath as I watched one cameraman narrowly avoid being sighted by a leopard on the hunt, and another fly through the Alps by wingsuit to get the perfect shot of a golden eagle in flight. It was fascinating, particularly as when you watch the finished product you don’t even feel like the humans are there.
The visuals alone were also stunning, and we were treated to the most up-to-date technology to show scenes that looked even better on-screen than in real life. One in particular that I enjoyed was watched the golden mole of the desert, a creature that you wouldn’t even know existed otherwise. The intimate shots of animals going about their daily lives were inspiring, and the use of time-lapse breath-taking in parts.
As well as the natural world, there was also a lot of focus on climate change and the destruction that we as a species have caused. Attenborough has passionate about this and it shows – I couldn’t help feeling guilty seeing the trail of devastation we’ve left in our footsteps. Each episode ended positively though, showing what we can do to help, and also showing some strange adaptations made by wildlife who have actually benefitted from our way of life. The last episode on cities featured a lot of this, and so it was refreshing to see animals and humans living side-by-side, like they do in Jodhpur, India, and more surprisingly New York.

With over 12 million viewers tuning in Attenborough proves that as humans we still have a deep connection with nature, and a curiosity about parts of the world we would ordinarily forget about. The wait for this series was completely worth it, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so gripped by a wildlife documentary before. David – you’ve done it again. 5/5


Hannah Read

Planet Earth II at CeX

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