This is another iconic film from David Attenborough, and like many I’m sure, it strikes me as a tale drawing to its natural close. Much like our Earth and its natural systems that keep us alive. A chilling tale of the Earth’s decay through the eyes of the man who arguably knows it best, a call to enact collective change and halt the destruction of our planet. It exudes a hopeful message, albeit thickly interlaced with ominous truths.
Throes to the barren and desolate Earth we will leave behind if the human race continue on its current trajectory, the unthinkable but very imminent ‘6th mass extinction’ that appears to be sat awaiting our arrival, and whose cold shadow we can already feel arching over us from close ahead – these are what build the backbone of Sir Attenborough’s new documentary “A Life On Our Planet”.
Intrinsic in this cinematic masterpiece (could we expect anything less?) lies the harrowing chiaroscuro between black and white images from Attenborough’s early career and the visually striking scenes of natural landscapes from times gone by; all in contrast with sparse rainforests, a painful time-lapse of shrinking polar ice caps and a birds-eye view of the unrelenting farmland that suffocates our once-natural landscapes in the interest of excessive mass production. Sir Attenborough’s narration only enhances what we can see in front of us.
At the forefront, lies the message that we, as human beings, are in the process of digging our own graves. We can choose to stop, re-evaluate – dig ourselves back out before it’s too late, or we can simply keep digging until we’re too far down to get back out.
Since graduating from Cambridge University with a Masters Degree in natural sciences in 1947, David Attenborough has released more than a hundred documentaries, exploring every corner of our natural world, and unintentionally, has, over his lifetime documented it’s decay at the hands of humans’ disproportionately un-renewable and destructive consumption.
It is a warning, and guidance rather than a message of pure and untinged doom. Attenborough is asking us to change now as a collective species so that the natural world can return to some of its vital patterns of life, restoring bio-diversity and securing our future as a species, in harmony – rather than in competition – with nature: in the words of Sir Attenborough: “we need to learn to work with our planet, rather than against it”.
Glimmers of hope for a future forged through innovative technologies, and a look at pioneers for change across the globe knits an air of hope and optimism in with the unease about our current flight path.
Think solar panels, hydro and wind energy… working with the Earth’s natural patters to fuel our modern way of life. Price William and David Attenborough have joined forces to bring about pioneering methods of solving our greatest environmental problems over the next 10 years, they have named it the ‘Earth-shot Prise’ and there is £50 million at stake. In the words of Prince William, it is “ten years of action to repair the Earth”.
The documentary is on Netflix and BBC One I-Player if you are yet to catch it.