There has been quite some time since the last installment of BBC’s Planet Earth Series, more than 10 years. Along with “Life”, they probably constitute the best nature’s documentaries ever produced. They had set the bar so high that is now inevitable to follow another series without comparing and contrasting it to their standard. So the question naturally arises, what was more to offer in Planet Earth 2, what was still missing?
Before answering let me -again- express my love and admiration towards David Attenborough. I see him like the grandpa I never had. He is 90 and still pursuing his passion, inspiring all of us to view the world through his own eyes. That is a goal to live by, that is something to look up to. His warm and soothing voice instilled with genuine curiosity and thrill about this world’s phenomena is making me feel this little planet is worth knowing and fighting for. David is though more than an exquisite narrator, he is a true explorer, a naturalist who has cut new ground in places like Madagascar and filmed for the first time events back in the 60’s. I ‘m referring of course to Zoo Quest, his first major broadcasting. A more modern 2011 revisit of the mini-series is found here, always about Madagascar. Below a picture of him in the closing scene delivering a powerful message to be discuss in the conclusion.
Regarding this series now we had to restrict ourselves for only 6 on-hour episodes instead of the usual 10, not counting the bonus compilation one “A World of Wonder”. The previous format was maintain as each episode illustrated the individual topic and in the end there was a dedicated section of how a particularity cumbersome part was caught on camera. As they put it, 117 filming trips. 40 countries. 3 years in the making, this is the list:
Each an every one of them had splendid and absolutely memorable moments. I have a friend who is obsessed with sloths for example and the opening scene of of the documentary is -spoiler alert- a sloth swimming across the ocean. Was it secretly orchestrated? Is BBC taking requests from the audience? She told me that David’s favorite animal is also a sloth, that explain the coincidence! Simply adorable, see for yourself the reason.
What I amazed me more is an incident in the “Islands” where the notion of unconditional love is portrayed in the animal kingdom. The case is regarding the bird species Albrtross in the island Snares, south of New Zealand near the Antarctica. These creatures have the instinct of locating their unique mate while they can wait a tremendous amount of time for their partner to return safely. Thus, the locals have coined the sense of loyalty and resolution to them, in a way that a person can be as faith as an Albatross. Just imagine that a bird can develop stronger emotional bonds than human for minute to fully comprehend the astonishing essence of it. I don’t want to spoil the suspense any further, that’s why I would highly encourage you to watch the trailer.
The paradigm shift although was not the 4K video nor the unique moments captured. What wrote Planet Earth 2 indelibly in my mind is David’s final plea in the “Cities”, an episode about life’s adaptation in the most recently existed habitat, the moving post-humanism idea that people and rest of the planet can coexist harmoniously in an viable equilibrium which is in great peril today. The exact quote goes as follows.
This is a new urban world that we have now designed and built with others in mind. Create the space, and the animals will come. Is this a vision of our cities of the future? It could be possible to see wildlife thriving within our cities across the planet. We, after all, are the architects of the urban world. Now, over half of us live in an urban environment. My home, too, is here in the city of London. Looking down on this great metropolis, the ingenuity with which we continue to reshape the surface of our planet is very striking, but it’s also sobering. It reminds me of just how easy it is for us to lose our connection with the natural world. Yet it’s on this connection that the future of both humanity and the natural world will depend. It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.