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Environmental catastrophe can be arduous to convey in emotional ways. The range of it can be deadening. Hearing it from Sir Attenborough, however, delivers the message and appeals both to our intellect and emotions. This thought provoking, superbly presented, and easily understood piece of factual filming is a compulsory watch.

Consider a body of work that includes “Our Planet“, “The Living Planet“, “The Blue Planet“, “Life on Earth“, and several other magnificent documentaries on the natural world that are all cherished and will all endure the test of time in archives and homes throughout the world. Netflix’s David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is banked on this planet, with profound reflections on the wilderness and the sheer urgency to save humankind from an imminent climate change emergency. “The natural world is fading… it will lead to our destruction,” says, Sir Attenborough.

Being a natural historian of 94 and working through the wilderness of the earth, this documentary is unlike any of Attenborough’s earlier work. Although it shows the astounding magnificence of the planet but instead of the usual cinematic shots of wildlife, he strives for a bleaker outlook on the predicament of the planet, the climate crisis, and global ecological decline in this one-off piece. 

The film begins and ends in Chernobyl, a place so utterly destroyed and scarred by human beings is precedent of how nature will reclaim the land if willed to its own devices. To take us through the journey of how Earth has transformed throughout Attenborough’s lifetime and how the human world, the most farsighted and evolved animal on the planet, has been dismantling and destabilizing the planet, archive footage of his work has been utilized. Shots of verdant rainforests with birdies and butterflies are followed by chainsaws chopping down the trees. You see thriving coral environments with colorful fishes and then decolorized white dead corals, as a consequence of ocean warming and gutted frozen fish; a look at our overfishing over the times.

Sir David Attenborough pictured in Chernobyl

One of Sir David Attenborough‘s fundamental ideas, one he has argued earlier at length, is that overpopulation and population increase is a threat to our planet. The closing half an hour is an outliner for what can be done to diminish our carbon footprints, how to be sustainable, and a note that, “if we take care of nature, nature will take care of us.” The documentary is a prescribed watch for the absurd climate change deniers and a wake-up call crying for people, policymakers, governments across the globe.

To compile it, one can say that the documentary had perfect narration, excellent soundtrack, dazzling cinematography, great directing, and incredible storytelling in a direct way. What matters is that the answers we need now are presented, including a significant alteration in our diets, a decrease in our material requirements, and an appreciation of our biodiversity. I hope we remember that our generations only have months, not decades to realize the extent of this problem.

Malaika Mumtaz Khan is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Shaireen Khan

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.

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