I never usually watch nature documentaries as I always suppose that I’ll get bored a few minutes in, being on the whole more interested in history than geography, but, from the moment I started to watch the second series of Planet Earth I was hooked.
Everything about this show is amazing- the incredibly crisp shots of unreal looking landscapes, the inherent dramatic tension of animals struggling to survive in the face of extreme climates and fearsome predators, the fascinating glimpses into the lives of the crew in what must surely be the most changeable and exhilarating day job of all time-and Attenborough’s wry commentary of both the animals and humans trying to film them alike-mesmerising.
The little narrative bites focus on an individual animal and their particular difficulties for just the right amount of time, and the interesting facts about the surrounding geographical area is always accompanied by beautiful footage, the shot of the flowers curling and uncurling under an impossibly starry Kenyan sky in the second episode springs to mind.
There are moments of levity, like the unforgettable shot of dancing bears set to jazzy music in last week’s episode, juxtaposed with the portrayal of the cold hard truth of the ‘circle of life’ in action, such as a group of snakes pursuing a lone baby iguana, though of course it’s even better when the small cute animals make a miraculous escape in the nick of time. These contrasts between moments of humour and solemnity are a large part of the attraction of the show as they prompt us to view nature with awe- here is a place where we can find joy and laughter one minute and be faced with the fact of animals eating each other to survive in the next.
I’m not sure if I’ll start to actively seek out nature documentaries to watch in my spare time, but watching Planet Earth II has definitely opened my eyes to just how incredible nature watching can be.
Image: Seeta Parmar