Whenever David Attenborough’s voice has ringed through any series that takes us, the audience, a little closer to knowing our habitat, we have been left surprised, wondering, puzzled at nature’s wonders. If you have not binge-watched Planet Earth (and drooled over Attenborough’s incomparable silky voice), you are in for a surprise of a different kind with Netflix Original’s latest big-budget nature documentary, Our Planet. For those who are acquainted with BBC’s Planet Earth, this may seem to be on a (very) familiar plane of action. Except this time, Attenborough’s perfect expressions of wonder, awe, and surprise have been interspersed with that of concern, guilt, and a certain sense of longing for what was. By Shubhanjana Das
Our Planet does what Planet Earth may have missed: bring to our knowledge the glaring and unpleasant truths that we have been blinding ourselves from — this world and everything in it suffering at the hands of human activities, chained down by the actions of a select few for whose concern, the whole ecological system is imperiled. After watching Our Planet, we couldn’t help but notice what exactly Attenborough intends to bring to our concern with pointed fingers — an inevitable, ugly, disturbing end, brought to life by a few sheer moments in the eight-episode series.
While BBC accomplished the job of giving us a nature documentary worth watching while sitting back with your family and enjoying a tub of popcorn, basking in the sheer magnificence and beauty of the world you live in, Our Planet’s intention is to jerk us into conscience with images that are disturbing and ‘unpleasant’, just what we need to move us from the false state of security that most of us are living in. With a 12-year deadline from the scientists to reverse climate change looms like a dark shadow over our shoulders, it is high time for a nature-documentary like Our Planet to surface and bring to notice the adverse impacts of human activity through some very poignant shots. The giant, lemur-hunting Madagascar mongoose’s home, the forests, that have been destroyed into non-existence, the ghastly reality of the death of at least 100 apes like Louie, Eden, and Pluto dying everyday due to human activity, and the transformation of Borneo’s lush green forests, home to innumerable species, into oil-palm mono-cultures are only a few examples from the series.
One scene that has specifically caught the eyes of many is that of walruses falling off a cliff. But why is that so jarring, you may ask? Walruses cannot bear the shock of a 260-feet fall off a cliff, yet what were they doing on the top anyway? Well, they could be on ice if there was any. Climate change has claimed not only the habitat of polar bears but animals like walruses and Our Planet makes it a point to bring to notice the far-reaching effects of every single human activity contributing towards climate change.
Yet, Our Planet is not all a horror-show. It portrays optimism and the ability of the whole human population to come together in an emergency that is far more significant and urgent than any other. As 16-year old activist Greta Thunberg says, “Act as if your house was on fire.”