Saturday, April 13, 2019
New York Times – "Watching ‘Our Planet,’ Where the Predator Is Us"
"“One Planet” appeals to the sense of wonder as viscerally as any of its predecessors, but to a purpose. Here is this beautiful, rare thing, each episode says. It didn’t used to be rare! But it is now. And here is how we’re responsible. And here is a tangible thing we might do to fix it. The arc of each installment runs from beauty to loss to a concrete, hopeful example of a battered ecosystem that’s recovered."
"The understatement is potent. Attenborough describes a mating scene in a lush Madagascar jungle with typical verve, then drops a bomb: “Since these pictures were recorded, this forest, and the unique life it once contained, have disappeared altogether.” That celebration of life you thought you were just watching was, in fact, a funeral.
His voiceover is paired with images of destruction that are as breathtaking in scale as any mass migration footage. Satellite images of verdant green shrink to desiccated brown over and over. The rain forests episode closes with an aerial image of the wild Amazon tree canopy butting up against a homogeneous sea of agricultural palms, as sterile and monotonous as a computer-generated pattern."
"The last episode, “Forests,” winds up, of all places, in the ruins of Chernobyl, still depopulated after the 1986 nuclear disaster. The accident was a catastrophe, of course, for humans. But not for everyone.
The camera pulls back from an empty building, its Cyrillic letters crumbling — and there are trees growing from the roof. Everywhere in this desolated settlement, the forest, whose decline the episode had just detailed, is reclaiming its space. Hares and lizards scamper about the ruins. A fox creeps through an open entryway. A moose strides past a sign marked with the radiation symbol. Herds of endangered Przewalski’s horses roam wild.
Reader, I laughed. This vista was horrible, of course, apocalyptic, something from “The Walking Dead.” And it was amazing. We were gone, and life was springing back without us. This was the happy ending.
Whether a happy ending is still possible with us is the question “Our Planet” will leave you to sit with long after it ends."