Netflix is releasing its ambitious 8-part nature documentary series that will take its viewers across the globe; through harsh terrains and places you can’t begin to imagine and introduce you to creatures never before captured by a camera. This is Our Planet, a docuseries that promises to awaken the consciousness of its viewers to the sheer beauty of nature and the destruction our actions have caused upon it.
It hails from the direction of Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill, who also worked with BBC’s Planet Earth, which might soon lose its title to Netflix for being the best nature documentary film.
Sir David Attenborough, his renowned voice that grew synonymous with nature documentaries, will also be gracing Netflix’s docuseries. Because would you call it a nature documentary without his voice in the background?
Nature documentaries, in essence, provides a lens into the rest of the world; outside city streets, further than your town’s outskirts and extends to the very realm of the animal kingdom. They give us a view of how the animal ecosystem interacts with each other from the convenience of our televisions.
For decades, this was the way these type of documentaries were made – with its basic tenets to never disrupt the ecosystem and function. Humans are merely there to give us a glimpse.
However, it grew that all we see are the beauty what nature has to offer, the complexities of the animal kingdom, or the interaction of both that comprises their ecosystem. We don’t get to see the destruction that our actions cause.
In BBC‘s Planet Earth series, we see that narrative changed but not so much. In every 45-minute episode, we get to hear 5 minutes of what our actions have resulted in the animal kingdom’s ecosystem. That’s where Netflix’s Our Planet differentiates itself from all the different nature documentaries out there.
Netflix’s Our Planet would function as a wake-up call to human society. It’s a slap in the wrist that our action takes an enormous toll on the lives of millions of organisms outside our own.
“Netflix [decided], ‘This is what we want to put forward,'” Scholey says. “I think this could become the biggest conservation push, in terms of public awareness, there’s ever been, and to have them enabling us to get there is incredibly exciting.”
“We wanted to make it clear that, over the past 50 years, so much of nature has vanished, and time is short in terms of making sure that we keep the natural world for our children and our children’s children,” he adds.
A case in point: Even as they were in the process of filming, a portion of the Great Barrier Reef died due to temperature change. “It’s probably the greatest natural disaster that’s happened in the history of humanity,” Scholey states.
Moreover, Our Planet was a product of five years of intensive labor and research that spanned to 50 countries and every continent with 600 crew members required to be in-location of some of the most gruesome environments.
And within those five years, they saw drastic changes in the environment that would shock the regular person with how fast they come.
Forests have been destroyed. After seeing orangutans Louie, Eden, and Pluto, in their natural habitat, Our Planet tells us that 100 of these apes die every week through human activity and that they may be the last of their generation. We see Borneo’s jungle transforming into oil-palm monocultures in a time-lapse shot that is almost painful to watch.
Even Attenborough’s manner of speaking changes in this docuseries. He takes on a more sympathetic and cold approach,
If you think about it, it’s almost too dark and depressing. A part of Our Planet truly is, and that’s the main point of it. Viewers are forced to acknowledge that every one of us has contributed to the chaos that’s accumulated around us. We’re too busy building ourselves and the environment around us, but we turn a blind eye towards what’s happening to the rest of the world.
It may be sad and hopeless, but the docuseries is also a telling story of hope and determination. That our actions may have caused irreparable damages, but we may still build from the ashes as seen in Chernobyl where life is slowly being restored.
We will still get to see the beauty that remains through concrete actions and changes in society to address the issues that our world is facing. The first step is that we need to realize what we’ve done then we can start about thinking about what we should do to prevent it from happening again.
Our Planet starts streaming on Netflix April 5.