Painstakingly filmed over a five year period in high definition (in the early 2000s by the way) Planet Earth stands as perhaps the most expensive ever nature documentary ordered by BBC Worldwide (costing $2 million per episode)- and, of course, is narrated by the esteemed Sir David Attenborough, because no British nature documentary is complete without his vocals.
Fortunately, the end result didn’t disappoint. Quite simply, Planet Earth is a visual masterpiece, featuring spectacular photography, that never fails to leave one in awe – not only of the majestic environments captured, but also the sheer gargantuan effort that the workers behind the series must have put in to make this happen. The information presented is unfailingly educational without coming across as too dry or stiff and sufficiently deep in its brevity without being esoteric.
The HD quality gives the viewer a crystal clear view no matter where the camera goes – long tracking shots of cranes flying over – yes, over – the Himalayas to the plains of Africa, the depths of the Pacific, the Arctic desert, the Amazon rainforest and several other biomes. Capturing animals on video that heretofore had only ever been seen in passing before, the documentary remains a must see a decade later. The music is uplifting, triumphant, celebrating the terrible beauty of the cycle of life, yet mournful when it touches on the fragility of our natural world. There may be some issues with violence when it comes to animals and hunting scenes, but usually the scenes are tastefully done so that nothing is graphic.
There are so many beautiful things in this series that I never even knew existed, and just seeing the intricate and delicate balance of nature…well, the more I see of it, the more I remember why I love watching nature documentaries. I almost never tell people ratings because for me it’s usually a case of “did I like it or did I not/will other people like it or will they not”, but for this I’ll make an exception. 10/10. It’s quite simply a must see. I guarantee that if, when you see this, you cannot fail to be moved. As documentaries go, this should be at the top of the “must watch” list.
A sequel to Planet Earth, Planet Earth II, is planned by the BBC to be released sometime later this year. With the incredible strides in technology since, it should prove to be even better than the first. When it comes, I’ll be ready…after I take care of my exams first.