Though not everyone may know the name and face of Sir David Attenborough, almost everyone will recognize his voice. It has been the steady voice of one who deeply loves the natural world and all its creatures. In this new documentary, not only do we hear the voice but we also see the 93-year-old face of someone who is an advocate for the planet in all its intricacies and interdependencies. Attenborough calls this documentary “my witness statement and a vision for the future.”
Attenborough begins his witness in a most hopeless and grievous place, a deserted, crumbling building near the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He walks through the ruins, reminding viewers of what happened here 25 years ago and of the devastating effects of radiation to human beings, to animals, and to the landscape.
With Chernobyl as the sobering stage, Attenborough reflects on his long career as a natural anthropological and social historian. He reflects on footage from his days when, as a young man, he was privileged to join expeditions into the most remote civilizations and habitats of that time. These reflections bring a smile to Attenborough’s face as well as the viewer’s.
But the trajectory over the intervening years has been most sobering. Habitats—from ice floes and glaciers to rainforests and coral reefs—are shrinking at an alarming rate. Their inhabitants are meeting a sure death, deaths that are both heartbreaking and alarming, as the film’s images show. “And this,” says Attenborough, “is all within my single lifetime.”
One might well expect a level of hopelessness from someone who has given so much to call the citizens of this world to stewardship over decades. But this film is a testament to the resilience of living things despite destruction. It is an invitation, albeit an urgent one, to what is possible and to the turning of the tide.
As much as fans enjoyed the beauty and majesty of the Blue Planet series, this is a must-see sequel for a new generation who are capable of making choices for change to keep this planet blue. Recommended for family and educational viewing despite some jarring images. (Netflix)