Page 1 of 3
David Attenborough and crew score again with yet another mesmerizing nature documentary saga....
BBC/ 360 Minutes / 2013 / Unrated / Street Date: February 26, 2013
Neil Young likes to say of his catalog that ‘it’s all one song’, and even though neither he nor his current touring partners Crazy Horse appear in this latest BBC documentary set, his sentiment has a particular echo here. With David Attenborough narrating, we descend into various aspects of the African experience as only shows like these can offer: with impossible nature photography fusing with a particular grandeur these filmmakers seem to have a monopoly on, it’s futile to resist the charms of these episodes.
Attenborough’s team takes aim at various geographical facets of the continent as jumping-off points, and this makes for a wonderfully diverse display of beasts, critters, and other living things that many of us haven’t had much familiarity with. The bizarre (well, bizarre to a native Californian) denizens of the deep Kalahari desert, oceans filled with unique whales and other leviathans, rainforests that give the impression that they couldn’t possibly hold more life than they do – Attenborough walks us through it all.
Yet Neil’s quote hangs heavy when it comes to Africa. It’s a wonderfully accomplished piece of filmmaking, and if you’re one of those viewers who have watched Planet Earth five or six times by now, there’s no question you’ll drool with happiness with this new BD set. But as well-managed as Africa is, at times it feels a bit leaden and familiar, like it’s more a chore than a thrill to slog through its six installments. Don’t get me wrong – this is extraordinary nature documentary filmmaking – but perhaps the particular advent of Planet Earth-style programming has lost a bit of its sheen.
Maybe it’s time for Attenborough and company to follow Crazy Horse on tour for their next doc compilation. Now there’s some wild nature….