Director Alistair Fothergill helmed this extraordinary piece of documentary film making, a parallel with David Attenborough’s BBC series of much the same name, being a feature length edition of the same footage, although with a different narrator for each territory (Patrick Stewart for the UK, James Earl Jones for the U.S. and so on).
A Disney production, the storyline, such as it is, bearing in mind the documentary nature of the piece is to follow a selection of animals at some of the most dramatic moments of their lives, whether it be the struggles of a female polar bear to deliver her cubs to safety amidst the Arctic ice, or the tramp of an elephant herd towards the life-saving seasonal floodwaters of the Okavango Delta. It is a no holds barred presentation of the savagery, wildness and stunning beauty of this planet and all the life forms that inhabit it and has a definitely political stance towards conservation, as well it should.
We realise by the humbling yet uplifting experience of watching the movie that this planet’s ecosystem is delicately balanced and that with the human population growing exponentially, it is long past time we did something to low our consumption of the planet’s resources, before it throws up a defence to annihilate us.
Despite this, don’t be put off by the thought of this being one long eco friendly polemic, it is not. It’s more an exploration of the wonder of this world and as such it carries one hell of an emotional impact, highlighting the inevitability of a violent death at the hands of a predator in the natural world. The scope of the movie is tremendous, travelling all over and indeed under the world to bring us incomparable vistas and sights that would be impossible to experience in one lifetime. And what is most remarkable is that it is all entirely real, with no CGI or effects to confuse the mind, this is how our planet really is and the various camera operators and cinematographers should be applauded for the lengths to which they went to obtain such breathtaking images.
Remarkably, not once does a human appear in this visual feast. And perhaps that’s just as it should be.