Overblown Discussion of Darwin and his Influence on Modern Biology
I would never think that I would find a David Attenborough program disappointing. For over half a century he has graced our screens, offering us consistently suggestive insights into the way our world works as well as showing us an anima mundi in which every form of life is worth studying in detail.
Then what's actually problematic about DARWIN AND THE TREE OF LIFE? It's certainly not the content; as with most of his work Attenborough has the common touch, a unique ability to render the complex comprehensible and relate the recondite to our daily lives. He is more than able to explain Darwin's unique contribution to our understanding of our world, and how his theories challenged religious dogma in the nineteenth century and continues to do so today.
On the other hand the visual style of the program detracts from its content. Petra Graf and Ian Salvage's photography is far too flashy, favoring dissolves accompanied by rapid cuts in rock video style. Dan Jones's music is both lush and intrusive, the kind of score we might expect from a romantic comedy rather than a documentary. The entire production takes a popcult approach towards its material, quite unlike most Attenborough programs.
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