Africa (2013)
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Savannah 

Volcanoes, some still active, shape East Africa's vast savannas, mainly consisting of grasslands where huge wildebeest and other herds roam and their annual migration steers the habitat ... See full summary »
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Himself - Narrator
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Simon Blakeney ...
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Justin Maguire ...
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Volcanoes, some still active, shape East Africa's vast savannas, mainly consisting of grasslands where huge wildebeest and other herds roam and their annual migration steers the habitat type's complex life cycle. Some areas still remain primeval jungle, or became marshes or even hostile salt zones, yet all harbor intensive wildlife,whose lives are a merciless struggle for life, for elephants as well as insectivores. Written by KGF Vissers

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Documentary

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TV-PG | See all certifications »
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9 January 2013 (UK)  »

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16:9 HD
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User Reviews

 
On the African savannah
31 December 2017 | by See all my reviews

David Attenborough is nothing short of a national treasure. He may apparently dislike the term, but it is hard to not say that about such a great presenter who has contributed significantly to some of the best programmes (of the documentary genre and overall) the BBC has ever aired/produced.

It is really hard picking favourites, let alone a definite favourite, among what Attenborough has done because he has done so many gems, it is the equivalent of trying to choose your favourite ice cream flavour or your favourite operatic role (for examples) and finding you can't pick. 'Africa' to me though is right up there, so are the likes of both 'Planet Earth' series, 'The Blue Planet', 'Life' and 'Frozen Planet'. It has everything that makes so much of his work so wonderful and deserves everything great that has been said about it.

Following the amazing first episode "Kalahari", featuring the animals and habitat of the African desert, it is hard not to have high expectations for the succeeding episodes. The second episode "Savannah" meets those expectations and actually exceeds them.

Once again as with all of Attenborough's work, "Savannah" first and foremost is a wonderful looking episode. It is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the animals), way and never looking static. In fact much of it is remarkably cinematic. The editing is always succinct and smooth and the scenery is pure magic, like a character of its own and majestically photographed. The music score fits very well, never overly grandiose while never being inappropriate.

Like with a vast majority of Attenborough's work and throughout 'Africa', "Savannah" continually fascinates and illuminates, in terms of the facts there was a very good mix of the known ones and the unknown. Because there was such a large breadth and variety of habitats, wildlife, how they adapted to their environment and what was covered, it was so easy to learn so much more about the animals and the savannah and volcanoes, going beyond what we knew about Africa before.

Attenborough's narration helps quite significantly too, he clearly knows his stuff and knows what to say and how to say it. He delivers it with his usual richness, soft-spoken enthusiasm and sincerity, never talking down to the viewer and keeping them riveted and wanting to know more. The closing scenes have honesty and humanity.

The animals are big in personality and wide in range, they are a mix of cute and predatory, which helps give any conflict genuine tension, any fun moments their fun and the emotional moments pathos. How they adapt to their surroundings, why they behave the way they do, how nature works and how what the wildlife does affects the environment were all touched upon and made their points subtly, not hammering it home too much (a potential danger with documentaries). It completely succeeds, and brilliantly, at both educating and entertaining.

Despite making the most of the habitat, it's the animals that steal the show with the playful flamingos, the warring hippos, the adorable elephant calf and the tragic shoebills (that make for family drama of great brutality).

In summary, another episode of exceptionally high quality. 10/10 Bethany Cox


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