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Photo: Sir David Attenborough. Our Planet/Netflix

The Netflix nature documentary series Our Planet opens with a unique journey – that is outside of our own earth. Legendary narrator David Attenborough recounts the first successful mission to the moon, and more specifically the moment in which humankind first looked back on their own planet. This atmosphere of both reflection and existentialism is a perfect beginning to this eight-part miniseries. Each episode, though presenting a different aspect of life, collectively work to engage the viewer, acting not as a pretty “show-and-tell” series, but a “show-and-ask”, questioning the audience about how we view our natural world.

Cutting-edge technology and a seemingly impossible level of detail only helps Our Planet

The basic formula for these visually-stunning ventures into nature and wildlife may seem familiar as this series is made by the team responsible for the Planet Earth documentary mini-series. Taking over four years to complete, with filming in over 50 countries, Our Planet shows off this remarkable feat of both film technology and human patience through stunning scenes of natural life that almost seem too idealized to be real. One can barely imagine the painstaking process of filming; sitting for hours, if not days, to capture the perfect shot.

Photo: Netflix’s Our Planet Royal World Premiere, London, April 2019. (L-R) HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, Sir David Attenborough, HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. StillMoving/Netflix

Whether it be jaw-dropping moments of action or serene moments of isolation, Our Planet captures a 360-degree view of life on earth, taking no part of an animal’s lifecycle for granted. Birth, survival, struggle, competition, success, and death are all displayed in breathtaking realism. Nearly every scene displayed throughout the series seems as though the camera was invisible, simply inserting itself into the daily life of earth’s creatures.

Connecting man with nature

One of the less-endearing features about nature documentaries is how they can seemingly isolate us from nature in contrast to their attempt to bring us closer to it. Many scenes displayed in documentaries seem so impossibly organic and real that they are surely out of reach of humans. Our Planet, however, seeks to erase this formula by actively presenting a uniquely egalitarian approach.

Photo: Netflix’s Our Planet Royal World Premiere, London, April 2019. (L-R) David Beckham, Sir David Attenborough and Brooklyn Beckham. StillMoving/Netflix

Photo: Our Planet. Jamie McPherson Silverback Netflix

Photo: Our Planet Ted Giffords Netflix Silverback

Photo: Our Planet Ben Macdonald Silverback Netflix

Humans and the environment have always been and always will be engaged in a symbiotic relationship. Many documentaries fall victim to the fallacies of solely portraying negative human interaction, marking climate change as an inevitable doom caused only by the negligence and arrogance of mankind. Other documentaries will spend so much time viewing the most pristine points of nature that one could forget that many of these species are endangered. In an interview with the travel magazine Wanderlust, producer Alastair Fothergill states that Our Planet is the “first landmark natural history show ever” that seeks to combine entertainment with “a proper conservation message”.

This is one of the great successes of this mini-series, as it manages to assert itself as relevant without political undertones or “wagging fingers”. While it is clearly inevitable that any human creation will have some bias, the team behind Our Planet creates a menagerie of earth’s most diverse biomes that is aesthetically pleasing as well as socially inspiring and eye-opening.

Cast & Crew

Narrator – David Attenborough

Series Producers – Alastair Fothergill & Keith Scholey

Cinematographers – Gavin Thurston, Alastair MacEwan, Jamie McPherson, Hector Skevington-Postles

Production Management – Jane Hamlin, Sarah Wade, Dan Clamp

By Connor Brock

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