Some invertebrates have overcome the limitation of their small size by banding together in huge numbers. Many of these societies are so fine-tuned in the way they operate it's as if they wer... Read allSome invertebrates have overcome the limitation of their small size by banding together in huge numbers. Many of these societies are so fine-tuned in the way they operate it's as if they were a single being. But insect societies aren't all shining examples of co-operative behavio... Read allSome invertebrates have overcome the limitation of their small size by banding together in huge numbers. Many of these societies are so fine-tuned in the way they operate it's as if they were a single being. But insect societies aren't all shining examples of co-operative behaviour. The series ends with two insect armies fighting head on as Matabele ants raid a nearby... 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.
"Supersocieties", the final episode, 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, "Supersocieties" 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, "Supersocieties" 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.
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.
Concluding, a consistently brilliant series ends on a high. 10/10 Bethany Cox
- Mar 19, 2018