If you think you know Planet Earth?the BBC’s biggest documentary production ever?think again. Some of the series’ best bits have been re-edited together as Earth (with a new narration by Patrick Stewart) and the result is a feast for the eyes. These sumptuous images really do deserve to be seen on the big screen. Touching and ultimately uplifting, it shows just how beautiful?and fragile?a year on the ‘lucky’ planet really is.
We follow three main stories: a polar bear, her cubs and her doomed mate (you may recall the outcry that ensued on his death due to starvation); a humpback whale and her calf, who undertake a 4,000 mile journey from the warm-watered breeding grounds to their cold-water home; and a mother elephant and her baby as they join the herd for the agonizing trek to water, fighting off lions and exhaustion (the footage of the elephants’ joy as they swim in the water will lift even the most downcast of spirits). Along the way we encounter lynxes, wolves, baboons, duck chicks on their first flight and the hilarious mating rites of birds of paradise. Lions and tiger and bears, oh my!
Although the film shies away from showing gory demises, some of the animals we follow do die, but the film makes it clear that not only is this the natural order of things, but that to tamper with it places the whole system in peril.
Living in the developed world, we forget that there are still truly empty places in the world and that huge numbers of animals migrate over thousands of miles every year against enormous odds. For example, to capture the bar-headed geese struggling to get over Mount Everest, producers Alistair Fothergill and Mark Linfield took the first aerial shots of the summit (it’s not possible to use helicopters due to the altitude and jets are too fast to get proper results. The BBC managed to get unique access to a Nepalese spy plane to shoot the sequence). Nature?and the BBC?will always find a way.
To make the series, there were 30 camera teams involved in 4,500 days of shooting in more than 200 locations around the world, with a budget of $47 million, and using innovative techniques.
No one does this kind of thing as well and as entertainingly as the BBC, and it’s wonderful that it’ll reach a wider audience. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and, above all, you’ll learn something and have greater respect for the wonders of our planet.
At www.loveearth.com, you can also access information about the film and the environmental concerns raised in it at in a variety of languages. Forget An Inconvenient Truth. This is the film we should be showing in schools to inspire our children to take care of what we’ve got.
In cinemas from November 16