Natural World (1983– )
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The Amber Time Machine 

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15 February 2004 (UK)  »

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This amber really glows
10 November 2017 | by See all my reviews

As said many times, David Attenborough is 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. 'The Amber Time Machine' is one of the one-off specials featured on the "Attenborough in Paradise and Other Personal Voyage" DVD, and it's to me not one of his finest but is still extremely good. Attenborough was one of those few people that had a consistently good body of work, amazing for one so prolific, and one where even weaker efforts like 'The Penguin King 3D' and both parts of 'The Truth About Climate Change' were still well done.

'The Amber Time Machine' is not one of the wildlife/animal documentaries of his that connect with me somewhat more on an emotional level, but it is always nice to see something different, mainly the subject matter, and something that is deserving of more exposure than it gets.

First and foremost, 'The Amber Time Machine' looks great, even now. It is beautifully filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate, way and never looking static. The editing is always succinct and smooth and the scenery is spectacular.

Regarding the content, it's very entertaining and thought-provoking and even when one think they won't learn a lot they actually do, one learns a huge amount about what amber tells us about life and nature from as much as millions of years ago. This was an alien subject to me actually so 'The Amber Time Machine' was quite an education for me.

The presenting by Attenborough helps significantly. 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 Amber Time Machine' never feels episodic and leaves one glued for an hour regardless of any initial scepticism of whether it'd be your thing.

If there was one minor complaint, it would be that for my taste it should have been about 10 minutes longer.

Other than that, to see something different and for an Attenborough completest this cannot be recommended highly enough. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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