Thoughts on BBC/Disneynature’s Earth

April 19, 2009

Argh. The American release of Earth is every bit a Disneyfied version of Planet Earth. And being a faithful fan of the latter (and David Attenborough’s narration), I am half giddy at the movie-length adaptation, half all-too-eager-to-snub-it.

The magnificent visuals, much of the footage rehashed from the series, didn’t disappoint one bit. But the artificial injection of suspense and good vs. evil binaries into natural occurrences, which as explained in the beginning provide plenty of story fodder on their own, was annoying. Must every chase scene become such a dramatic affair that we’re supposed to sympathize for the poor gazelle or caribou calf? It’s nature, guys, and predators eat prey—leave your morals and cultural values out of it.

Okay, maybe I’m decrying the good/evil binary while subscribing to the nature/culture one behind my back, but I can’t help it if some of these scenes were just bad. The slow-mo scene of the cheetah chasing, and eventually killing, its prey was done in such a way that I almost felt like a voyeur—it was so slow, and so incongruous with the nature of the cheetah, that my mind wandered and I started thinking: the way the cheetah (lithe, sleek, powerful, virile?) was ultimately depicted mounting the prey and taking it down with a slow-mo bite to the neck, it was very sexual, almost like rape. Then I promptly struck those thoughts from my mind and wondered why I had been thinking them during a G-rated movie.

Similarly, I didn’t like the 10-12 slow-mo replays of chicks jumping out of their nest, or the good sixty seconds’ worth of two great white sharks breaching and eating seals. One scene would have sufficed to get the gist of it—that is, great whites are crazy and launch their entire bodies out of the water (which deserves a sincere wow). All in all, this had diddly to do with the humpback whale migration to which it was related, but I guess that’s what happens when you have tons of great footage and only a very loose storyline to tie it all together (and Darth Vader er, Mufasa I mean, James Earl Jones narrating).

On the plus side: an amazing soundtrack. (You can listen to a few tracks here.) Composer George Fenton returns, this time with the Berliner Philharmoniker; I don’t know whether the pieces are new or if they’re re-arrangements of the ones from the series, but they seem a bit poppier and less adherent to overarching musical themes. It’s a good thing. I want to find a copy of this CD!


2 Responses to “Thoughts on BBC/Disneynature’s Earth

  1. Alex Says:

    They seriously freakin’ loved those chicks jumping to the ground.

    My least favorite part was the ending recap of footage we’d already seen from all those animals… completely unnecessary.

    Polar bear grunts were pretty endearing though!

    • Amy Says:

      I’ll give it to them on the polar bear grunts. Miniature versions of large carnivores melt my heart of stone…?

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