Ever since they came onto land, the tiny creatures of the undergrowth have been forming alliances and partnerships with each other and with plants. Many of these relationships are staggering... Read allEver since they came onto land, the tiny creatures of the undergrowth have been forming alliances and partnerships with each other and with plants. Many of these relationships are staggeringly complex. While some clearly benefit both partners, others most certainly do not. Meet t... Read allEver since they came onto land, the tiny creatures of the undergrowth have been forming alliances and partnerships with each other and with plants. Many of these relationships are staggeringly complex. While some clearly benefit both partners, others most certainly do not. Meet the bot fly which uses smaller house flies as unwitting couriers to carry its eggs to cows,... Read all
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. To me though, 'Life in the Undergrowth' is up there with his crowning achievements and one of the best documentaries ever viewed, and as has been said already there are a lot of great ones. Also for a documentary exploring insects/invertebrates 'Life in the Undergrowth' is very much ground-breaking. It has everything that makes so much of his work so wonderful, hence some of the reiteration of my recent reviews for some of his work (being on a nature documentary binge in my spare time), and deserves everything great that has been said about it.
The penultimate episode "Intimate Relations" is another fine example of what makes 'Life in the Undergrowth' as good as it is. A lot of content is covered in typical Attenborough fashion, but it doesn't feel over-stuffed or under-explored.
First and foremost, "Intimate Relations" looks amazing. It is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the invertebrates), way and never looking static. In fact much of it is remarkably cinematic with some of the shots being unique for a documentary series, making one forget that it is a series. The editing is always succinct and smooth and the scenery is pure magic, similarly really admired the wide-ranging diversity of the different landscapes rather than restricting it to just one habitat. The music score fits very well, never overly grandiose while never being inappropriate.
Again, like so many Attenborough nature/wildlife documentaries and their individual episodes, "Intimate Relations" fascinates, teaches, moves, entertains and transfixes. In terms of the facts there was a very good mix of the known ones and the unknown, some facts being familiar to us while going into detail about the different invertebrates. In terms of complexity and the exploration of relationships, this episode is one of the most insightful.
Invertebrates give me the heebie jeebies on the most part, but still found myself learning a lot about them, how they behaved and adapted and why on top of having misconceptions about them explored and cleared up. Despite still not being a fan, found myself appreciating them more.
Narration 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 invertebrates are wide in range and big in personality. The conflict has genuine tension and suspense, there is some fun and a lot of emotionally powerful moments done with a lot of tear-jerking pathos. Found myself really caring for what we're told.
None of it is episodic or a stringing of scenes, feeling like its own story instead, a consistent strength of Attenborough's work.
Overall, 'Life in the Undergrowth' proves once again that its brilliance hasn't been lost and has been consistent throughout, another thing so good about Attenborough's work (their quality consistency). 10/10 Bethany Cox
- Mar 19, 2018