The BBC’s natural history unit have produced another spin off from a tv series, much as they did for the Blue Planet with the theatrical release of Deep Blue.
For anyone who enjoyed Planet Earth, this film may feel a bit of a disappointment, almost an abridged version of the tv show, like a greatest hits. A narrative device has been employed; the film follows a year of the life of earth, tracing the tilt of the earth from arctic spring to Antarctic summer and back again. It opens with incredible ariel shots of the arctic and a starving polar bear emerging from her den with her two giant pawed cubs, who have never seen daylight before. The cubs are fantastically cute and clumsy, struggling in the snow.
From there we travel south, through the tree line, exploring the taiga, an area of vital importance in controlling carbon levels that has been ignored in favour of the more glamorous rainforests. (The film constantly celebrates the planet’s beauty and diversity while reminding the audience of its fragility.) from there it’s a quick hop to the temperate forests of northern Europe, burgeoning with life at the beginning of April. Mandarin ducklings learn to fly by launching themselves out of trees.
And then to the tropics, where there are no seasons, and where life is incredibly rich and frankly weird. Deserts can be beautiful but as the planet warms they are growing; we follow a herd of elephants across the kalahari as they desperately search for water. The sun which gives life also destroys it.
Earth, perhaps inevitably, feels like a whistle stop tour rather than the more considered and in depth wildlife documentaries that we’re used to. That’s not to say that it’s bad, far from it, but I’d like more facts. And patrick Stewart, while suitably highbrow, isn’t David Attenborough. But earth is spectacular and beautiful, and works as a companion piece to planet earth. Extras include a making of.
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