There are many words one could use to describe Our Planet, a nature documentary recently released on Netflix. “Beautiful” is certainly one of them, as is “breath-taking”.
“Deeply uncomfortable” is another.
Our Planet breaks away from the more traditional nature documentary format in that it makes no bones about the fact the beauty it is showing is under threat from humans. Truly gorgeous shots of rainforests, savannah and Arctic wilderness are quickly followed up by tragic reality.
One particularly painful example comes when narrator David Attenborough, the king of nature documentaries, spends a good 15 minutes exploring a lush rainforest and the unique animals that live there.
When he’s done, he pauses, as if in tragic contemplation, and explains how the rainforest was cut down years ago to make way for a palm oil plantation.
It is this sense of rapturous awe of nature combined with unflinching examination of its destruction, that makes Our Planet so captivating and yet so hard to watch.
The series doesn’t tip-toe around the issue and says right up front that it is humanity and its unquenchable thirst for resources, that is decimating the natural world.
And, while Our Planet has plenty of hard truths, it is also not without hope. As Attenborough says in the conclusion of one of the last episodes, we have a choice.
We can continue with business as usual or we could turn around and save not just the planet but ourselves as well.
There is still time but, as the Netflix series points out, the window is growing smaller by the day.
(Fun fact: The video thumbnail looks like a dragon and now you cannot un-see it)