The Hunt (2015)
1 user 1 critic

The Hardest Challenge 

This episode explores the ways predators - like the leopard, crocodiles, killer whales, and wild dogs - attempt to catch their prey.




Episode credited cast:
David Attenborough ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Damien Boisseau Damien Boisseau ... Narrator (voice)


Even for feline stealth masters like the cheetah, the failure rate in energy-consuming hunts is generally high, so natural selection among their offspring is ruthless - in their case about one in seven. Hunting in packs like canines has advantages, but also requires extensive coordination and according intensive training of juveniles, as with wild dogs. Some must lay in waiting all season, like Nile crocodiles for the annual wildebeest migration. Some elaborate ingenious tactics and patiently brave great risks, like killer whales after a whale calf. Written by KGF Vissers

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adolescent | dog | See All (2) »




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Release Date:

3 July 2016 (USA) See more »

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Far from a challenge to sit through
11 December 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

David Attenborough is nothing short of 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. To me though, 'The Hunt' 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. 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 Hardest Challenge" is a breath-taking start.

First and foremost, "The Hardest Challenge" looks amazing. It is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the animals), 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, "The Hardest Challenge" 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 predators, what they do, how they adapt to their environments and why they act that way. Like with a lot of Attenborough, found myself learning a lot despite not being a slouch when it comes to knowledge of these different predators.

Throughout one is reminded that the aim is not to show gratuitous blood and gut to empathise that this is predators we're talking about. Instead the point is made that hunts do fail and the odds are against these predators, doing it without hammering it home or laying it on too thick. "The Hardest Challenge" does a great job with this.

Notable in particular are two sequences. One is with the two wildebeest and the wild dogs. The other, and the episode's highlight, is the killer whales and the humpback whale, both harrowing and poignant.

It is expected for Attenborough's narration to help significantly, one isn't disappointed in "The Hardest Challenge" or throughout 'The Hunt'. 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 "behind the scenes/making of" scenes too gave some humanity to the series and allowed us to get to know those behind the camera as well as in front.

The predatory animals are big in personality and wide in range. 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 they're told and the wildlife. Like much of Attenborough/BBC's other work, "The Hardest Challenge" doesn't feel like an episodic stringing of scenes, but instead like the best nature documentaries each feels like their own story and journey, with real, complex emotions and conflicts and animal characters developed in a way a human character would in a film but does it better than several.

Overall, breath-taking start, far from a challenge to sit through. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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