This is a documentary series looking at the most dramatic wildlife spectacles on our planet. We see the impact of the melting of the arctic ice in the summer, the annual return of the ... See full summary »
British naturalist David Attenborough examines the diversity and origins of "life on earth." As is usual with David Attenborough's work, the camera work is outstanding and employed techniques which were ground-breaking in their day. Also, as is his custom, Mr. Attenborough filmed this series in locales all across the world. Written by
Jason A. Cormier
The opening music - redolent of `Also Sprach Zarathustra' - still sends a shiver down my spine. One hears it and just KNOWS that this is one of THE ground-breaking television documentaries of all time. Some of the detail is bound to be outdated by now; but so far as presentation is concerned, `Life on Earth' is timeless, wearing its years far more lightly than `Cosmos' does, or than `The Civil War' will.
The title says it all. Attenborough is giving us nothing less than the story of life on Earth, from the beginning to the present, but concentrating on a few key innovations (episodes bear titles like, `The Invasion of the Land', `A Watertight Skin', `Pouch and Placenta', and so on). The other emphasis is on the poetry of life on Earth. So it's not an even-handed history. What we're getting is a look at the origin of particular things alive today: so birds get much more attention than trilobites; animals get more attention than plants; mammals get more attention than insects; and we hominids have a whole episode to ourselves. This is as it should be. When cockroaches start making documentaries, they can concentrate on what interests THEM; but tough luck, they can't, so it's our show. All the same, watching the final episode (`The Compulsive Communicators'), AFTER having watched all the preceding episodes, gives us a stronger feeling of our true place in evolutionary time than any number of diagrams or Carl Sagan calendars.
This gets my vote for being Attenborough's best work, the best television documentary ever made, and possibly (not that I know enough to judge) the BBC's greatest achievement. It's long overdue for a re-screening.
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