Friday, December 1, 2023
HomeTVPlanet Earth Review

Planet Earth Review

Considering the vast, man-made changes to the landscape and oceans of Earth in the time after the release of Planet Earth, the David Attenborough documentary serves more as a grim time capsule now than it does as a nature documentary. It serves both purposes well, the eleven-episode BBC series is a vast and rewarding achievement that combines sleek, calming narration with the wonders of the world. Depths of the ocean, vast swathes of jungle and dark caverns are explored with such incredible detail and passion for the world around Attenborough and company. Such is the charms of Planet Earth, banking on the dependable, wisdom-like charms of a national treasure.

Undeniably well-shot, the footage throughout the documentary is a wondrous achievement that looks to bring intimate realities of animals both above and below sea level to life. There is not much to comment on about the animals themselves, Attenborough takes his audience through these moments of interest like a calming geography teacher, his spiel fitted with courage and clarity. More to the point, it is this simplicity found for the bulk of the documentary that makes it so rewarding. Clipping this alongside the Planet Earth Diaries segments at the end of each episode is a strong way to round out each theme, not just to lay to rest another subject, but also to credit those who took weeks, months or even years out of their lives to put this footage together.

Their efforts are, thankfully, not in vain. Planet Earth is a marvellous collection of life on this planet, but they must be matched by the engagement of an audience. For those not caring for the animals of the world, then Planet Earth will do little and hold even less charm. Noncommittal it may be to convincing those that Planet Earth is a worthwhile experience, there is a feeling that Attenborough and his team should not have to convince the sceptical. Those who may like penguins, but do not want to spend an hour of their day with them. They are content and happy to know that they exist, and that they are within travelling distance of. Experience and education go hand in hand, some are more resistant to it than others.

Are the final subjects and creatures of this documentary chosen for their interest or for the amount of footage the crew were able to capture? Nothing fruitful comes from that line of questioning, but put yourself in that conspiratorial mindset for just a moment. Planet Earth wishes to give a generalised introduction to the many incredible beasts and beings that are littered throughout sky and sea, but in doing so must have a selection process for what is included and why. Attenborough and this crew of explorers bring such incredible footage to the screen, beautiful shots that could be used as desktop backgrounds across the globe. It is not a problem of omission, but one of choice. The animals featured and explained are interesting and there is no need to be greedy in asking for more, it would simply be surplus to requirement.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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