David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is a documentary directed by Keith Scholey, Alastair Fothergill and Jonathan Hughes. The documentary is narrated by David Attenborough himself, where he talks about our planet Earth and why and how it is rapidly moving towards catastrophe.
“This film is David Attenborough’s witness statement.”
A Life on Our Planet starts off in a lonely and deserted location. We snoop around in houses, classrooms and empty streets until Attenborough tells us that it is an area around Chernobyl, the devastation of which rendered the once-bustling place uninhabitable. Attenborough then proceeds to tell us in detail how, in his 93 years of life, he has seen the world change drastically. With a career spanning 60 years and living life close to various species of animals, Attenborough has seen first-hand how drastically the world has changed. And it’s a change, he says, that does not bode well for civilisation.
I don’t think I’d be able to tell you exactly how beautifully this documentary is shot. Every shot bursts on screen and it feels like the flora, fauna and the whole world is right in front of you. If I had to describe it in one word, it’d be breath-taking. However, the lush green forests and blue seas with their myriad animals, fishes, birds, flowers, insects and everything above and in between are juxtaposed with horrible scenes of death and destruction – of whales being killed and huge trees being cut down. It’s a horrible and cruel thing to watch and will make you cry thinking that this is where we have pushed our beautiful world.
As I was saying above, the direction and cinematography of A Life in Our Planet sometimes feel larger-than-life. There are sweeping shots of beautiful forests and on the next shot, we’re underwater, dancing with the dolphins. They are vivid and full of life. The contrast is equally horrifying – it’s like a warning. Dead corals and forests, seals, dolphins and fishes dying and the planet is in decay – it’s a planet that no one wants. There’s one particular scene that is especially heart-wrenching – a lonely polar bear swimming through a stretch of water, with no ice in sight.
The animals deserve better.
However, all is not doom and gloom. Attenborough, in the last segment, takes us through how we can make the situation better. He points out various things that need to be done at the earliest. Among these we have population control and using renewable energies. He gives hope in a situation that felt extremely hopeless five minutes ago, and makes you wonder if it really is possible to change the smallest thing to get such big returns.
Attenborough in the last few minutes of The Life on Our Planet mentions that if we do not check ourselves now, Earth would become one big Chernobyl, and we won’t have anyone to blame but ourselves.
The Life on Our Planet, along with showcasing the diverse flora and fauna and its destruction, also takes time to take us through Attenborough’s life and his work with the environment. He talks about when he was young, and then he focuses on his huge career dedicated to the planet, animals and the environment. It’s mesmerising to watch – there’s so much to learn from this man. And him saying that our planet, the only home that there is, is on the verge of a catastrophe will surprise you and force you to rethink your preconceived notions.
Summing up: David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is heart-warming and heart-breaking. It’s eye-opening and also a treat for the eyes. There’s just so much in this world that we turn a blind eye to, so much that we don’t know. It’s alarming what we have done to the planet, but also hopeful as to what it can be if we work on ourselves.
Also, the background score is just great. It rises and falls perfectly at the right moments and adds so much to the feel of this documentary.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is streaming on Netflix.
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