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Life on Earth 

David Attenborough's groundbreaking study of the evolution of life on our planet.




1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Series cast summary:
David Attenborough ...  Self - Presenter 13 episodes, 1979


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

life | See All (1) »




Did You Know?


An additional item on the DVD is David Attenborough being interviewed by fellow naturalist Tony Soper regarding the making of Life on Earth including the equipment used (at around 23 mins) See more »


David Attenborough: There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original home video release was severely edited down to fit on two video tapes, meaning half or more of the original broadcast was omitted. See more »


Featured in The 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) See more »

User Reviews

"Four million different solutions for the problem of staying alive"
21 October 2006 | by Camera-ObscuraSee all my reviews

Sir David Attenborough is best known for his spectacular natural history projects like "Trials of Life", "Life of Plants", "Life in the Freezer" and this one, "Life on Earth", which made him one of the most characteristic and most-loved television personalities in the history of British television.

He also has one of the longest careers in television of anyone still on the air today. Joining the BBC in 1952, he first became a producer for the Talks Department, which handled all non-fiction broadcasts. Originally discouraged from appearing on camera because an administrator thought his teeth were too big, he did went on presenting "Zoo Quest", an educational program featuring animals from the London Zoo, which first aired in 1954. From 1965 to 1969 David Attenborough was the main Controller for BBC2, where he was responsible for the introduction of the first television broadcasts in colour in the UK and soon after he also initiated televised snooker. Many might loath him for the latter, but starting with "Life on Earth" he went on to produce a series of natural history documentaries of truly epic proportions. It was the first in a mammoth trilogy, together with "The Living Planet" (1985) and "Trials of Life" (1990). He showed to have a real talent for screen-writing and presenting skills combined with an expert knowledge of natural history. With his irresistible flair and talent for presentation coupled with stunning cinematic images and a beautiful music score, this was a truly groundbreaking series.

Whilst having seen the individual episodes on television several times now, for reviewing I prefer the two-hour VHS-version from 1985, at that time a newly re-edited BBC video-release from the original 16 hour series. Watching this version, it plays much more like a feature film. With the featured geological and ecological time-scale, combined with a perfect integration of sound and image, it's as close a documentary - at least a nature documentary - has ever got to achieve something almost purely cinematic in expression. Still active at 80 years old, Attenborough is currently filming for his latest project, "Life in Cold Blood", a series about reptiles and amphibians, due for completion in 2008.

For any (aspriring) biology teacher, show this two-hour version to a group of children in class, and you will never have to answer unnecessary questions about evolution and ecology again.

Camera Obscura

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

16 January 1979 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Life on Earth See more »

Filming Locations:

Bermuda See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(13 parts)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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