I got the BBC’s Planet Earth series for Christmas, a gorgeous set of documentaries shot in high definition and narrated by British naturalist David Attenborough. The production was expensive (each episode is rumored to have cost $3 million dollars to produce), but the series is far and away one of the greatest things I’ve seen on film the only time I’ve ever wished I had an enormous flat screen television.
Our planet, as Attenborough says, “is still full of wonders,” and what I admire most about Planet Earth is the way it mixes stunning shots of natural beauty with a rather uncompromising view of what life is actually like: there is, on the one hand, the sheer animal joy of a polar bear emerging from her hibernation, zooming down the side of a mountain, and sloshing around in the snow. On the other hand is the quiet resignation of a caribou that’s been captured by a wolf, of a seal being eaten by a shark. Or my favorite scene thus far, of a group of African baboons wading uncomfortably through a freshly formed lake, holding their paws in the air and hoping that their heads don’t get wet (watch a clip from the American broadcast version, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, on Metacafe).
The holiday season is over, but I’d heartily recommend that you put it on your wish list for next year or, if you can’t wait, order it from Amazon today.