Review: Planet Earth II

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Magnificent

A beautiful demonstration of how reality can truly be as exciting and moving as fiction; and an important reminder of our responsibility for the life on our planet.

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After six episodes, spanning forty countries and almost fifty species, Planet Earth II has come to an end. With its dramatic camera work and Hans Zimmer composed soundtrack, it’s no surprise that this marvel of modern technology was the most watched natural history show for fifteen years.

Over the course of its six hours of published footage, the team have produced a stunning number of memorable moments. Its chase scenes truly give most Hollywood blockbusters a run for their money (no pun intended), giving us moments such as the racer snakes’ pursuit of the hatchling iguanas, which will not soon be forgot by the show’s enthralled audience. The show’s capacity for highlighting the tragedies of nature is also demonstrated; it is not easy to forget how many infant turtles lost their way to the beach (don’t worry, the crew did what they could to get all the young turtles to safety). Its unique vantage points also give an exclusive view of pack hunting, such as the lions’ desperate attempt to hunt the giraffe in the sparse desert.

The show’s cinematography has a tendency towards the spectacular, such as the show of starlings in the finale, and the marvellous landscapes throughout. The advanced technology used by the show’s 22-man crew, including 4k cameras and drones, surely pays off in their creation of such a beautiful and informative programme.

However, the overwhelming magnificence of this series comes from Sir David Attenborough, who guides us gently by the hand through the world’s dangers, marvels, battles, and victories. As always, his passion for the abundant life on Planet Earth is obvious in every word; but this time, he is also calling for help in his mission to maintain this abundance. With the President-elect of America a man that believes climate change to be a hoax, created by the Chinese (?!), it is more important than ever to be aware of the destructive force on the planet humans are.

He implores his audience, enraptured by the splendours of the rainforests and the mountains, to show their appreciation by keeping them safe. The finale’s crossover of wild animals and urban life, a contrast highlighted by the leopard caught on film in a suburban Indian area, shows how we have taken land and livelihoods from these wild animals, and how they have been forced to adapt to our polluted cities. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Attenborough offers hope in the form of vertical forests and supertrees in Singapore, and shows us how it is possible to live in harmony with the creatures of our world.

This fantastically moving show, full of spectacle and miraculous camera work, is a reminder that this year hasn’t been tough for human beings alone, and we must listen to Attenborough’s heartfelt plea. We have a responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to the rest of planet earth, too.

Planet Earth II is available to watch via BBC iPlayer, and purchase on DVD.

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Studier of English, Executive Editor of News, and lover of bad puns. Proud Hufflepuff, cat person, and musical theatre trash. Can usually be found using too many exclamation marks on twitter @faithfulpadfoot. Is, in fact, twelve, with no idea how they ended up at uni.

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