I think deep down everyone has a soft spot for nature documentaries. Sometimes it is the surreal colours of a rain forest that intoxicate viewers. Other times it is the brilliantly designed animal in a harsh habitat that intrigues viewers. And a lot of the time it is David Attenborough’s familiar, warm voice drip feeding us snippets of information about the peculiar workings of our vast and intricate world that give us cause to love nature documentaries. Yes, Planet Earth is back on UK television screens and it is fantastic! The first episode is all about islands and the unique lives that these island dwellers lead cordoned off to the rest of the world. The islands visited in the first of Attenborough’s six episode series include Komodo Island, Christmas Island and Madagascar.
I dare not give away the entire itinerary for the episode but I will reveal two brilliant moments that have already gone viral in the UK. One particular scene on the Galapagos Islands sees baby iguanas coming above ground through stones and beginning a journey across an open expanse to a larger, safer rock. The opening scene sees one baby iguana calmly making its way across the rocky plan, then from behind him a racer snake comes into view. This is follow by another, then another and another until there is a whole cohort of snakes racing after this defenceless iguana. More shots of different iguanas being chased by snakes follow accompanied by an exhilarating score by Hans Zimmer. These exciting and heartbreaking scenes led me to two thoughts. Firstly, I never thought I would be cheering iguanas being mercilessly hunted by snakes. Secondly, this short clip may actually be better than the most recent James Bond movie!
The second piece of brilliance I wish to mention concerns the 1.5 million chinstrap penguins of Zavodovski in the Southern Ocean. Attenborough explains the dangerous commute each chinstrap penguin parent makes for their child every other day. They travel two miles to the end of the island where fierce waves crash viciously against the rocky edge. When they make it off the island, they then travel some fifty miles to find fish and travel back with it ready in their stomach for their children to eat. The penguins have to time their leap back onto the rocky island edge with expert precision, if they don’t painful injuries and fatal consequences likely follow. Their incredible journey left me pretty thankful for my own meagre hour commute each day!
If you are an UK resident and are still yet to watch the first episode of Attenborough’s most recent offering then I pray you don’t wait much longer. The incredible shots the cameramen and women created will surely win multiple awards and Attenborough is still showing no sign of age as he surpassed his 90th year. If you are from the USA or elsewhere, Planet Earth II may not yet be released… If this is the case, rest assured that it will be worth the wait.