Human Planet (2011)
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Rivers: Friend and Foe 

Man always was attracted by rivers, not unlike seas, for water, fishing, irrigation, transport. And he deals in many ways with their dangers, ranging from torrents, frost and perilous ... See full summary »

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Man always was attracted by rivers, not unlike seas, for water, fishing, irrigation, transport. And he deals in many ways with their dangers, ranging from torrents, frost and perilous crossing to floods. Most lack moder technology, hence are reduced to minimal control, rather adapting to the tide then controlling it. Written by KGF Vissers

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father son relationship | See All (1) »

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Documentary

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TV-PG | See all certifications »
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24 February 2011 (UK)  »

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Friendship and conflict in the river
27 May 2018 | by See all my reviews

'Human Planet' is a hugely informative and exceptionally well-made series. Inevitable, though some may argue unfair, comparisons may be (have been in fact) made to the output of David Attenborough, to me 'Human Planet' is one of the better documentary series in recent years to not have Attenborough's name on it and stands wonderfully on its own, if just lacking the special magic of Attenborough's best work.

There are so many great things in 'Human Planet'. Its premise is dealt with exceptionally in every single episode, the environments, how they're lived in, how the humans adapt to the environments, the human struggles and how it all affects the environment are all interesting topics and important ones handled truly admirably. Also in a way that is illuminating but not preachy (which is a potential danger with anything environmental-themed and a danger often fallen into).

"Rivers: Friend and Foe" is a just as wonderful seventh episode to a consistently terrifically done series, after such a couldn't-be-any-better previous six episodes. Concept and setting-wise, it is not novel territory but the human and environmental approach made the execution feel fresh still.

When it comes to how it's written, "Rivers: Friends and Foe" does just as good a job entertaining and teaching, it's all very sincerely and comprehensively done and it never feels like a sermon. There are things here that are common sense and knowledge but one is taught a huge deal as well.

John Hurt's (RIP) narration delivery is similarly spot-on, very sensitively delivered and very dignified in a distinctively John Hurt way. Arguments may be made about Attenborough being a much better choice, to me Hurt was perfect and more than held his own and although Attenborough is the master of nature/life documentaries today he can't do every single one made.

Visually, "Rivers: Friend and Foe" may lack the awe-inspiring, almost cinematic quality of Attenborough's best work. With that being said, it is beautifully shot, shot in a fluid, graceful and never static way, and is chock-full of strikingly memorable images. In "Rivers: Friend and Foe", the scenery and mountain environment are like characters of their own, it is gorgeous to look at and has a lot of atmosphere.

Like every episode of 'Human Planet', "Rivers: Friend and Foe" is appropriately scored, never intrusive or too low-key, and the different scenes are powerful in a harrowing and poignant way, not to mention very honest.

In summary, exceptionally well-made, riveting and educational. 10/10 Bethany Cox


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