Is there a more vital 94-year-old than David Attenborough? We dare to doubt it. The man may have been walking around with a pacemaker for seven years and underwent double knee surgery five years ago, but in David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet The world’s most renowned nature documentary maker (many points on Scrabble, that word) still looks like he has a whole life ahead of him.
It is not surprising that in this Netflix documentary he not only looks back on an impressive career – not to mention that as director of BBC2 he introduced the world to Monty Python’s Flying Circus – but also, and above all, keep your eyes on the future. And that future does not look bright.
If Attenborough has been criticized in recent years, it was mainly because he was in series like Planet Earth too often highlighted the beauty and immense splendor of the animal world instead of focusing on the ecological disaster unfolding at the hands of humanity. from A Life on Our Planet it appears that this criticism has not fallen on deaf ears.
Of course, Attenborough, in its inimitable timbre, is also talking about the “dizzying diversity” and the “spectacular marvels” of the planet we live on, but he also zooms in on how biodiversity has deteriorated rapidly since its birth in 1926: we are at the ecological precipice. He describes the film as “a story of worldwide loss over a single lifetime”.
A Life on Our Planet begins in the ruins of Chernobyl and halfway through the British biovedette holds up a mirror more dystopian than the collected works of Dostoevsky and Stephen King: melting polar caps, ruthless wildfires, wastelands from Alaska to Zimbabwe. This is more than an uncomfortable truth. “Actually, I wish I wasn’t involved in this fight,” said Attenborough, “because I wish the fight wasn’t there or needed.”
But if someone is convincing the importance of the wilderness can defend, it is Attenborough. Whether he does it as a young, adventurous boy with bare chests – those images are also in it A Life on Our Planet – or as a spry over-nineties does not matter: Attenborough alone emits more power of persuasion than the entire humanity CO2.
In the last act takes A Life on Our Planet explicitly takes the form of a lesson, in which solutions for the global climate problem are finely listed. Normally we don’t really like raised fingers, but we accept that from David Attenborough. If only because it is his simple wish that future generations may also enjoy the “spectacular marvels” and the “dizzying diversity” on our planet. And from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, of course.
A Life on Our Planet can now be seen on Netflix.
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