Planet Of The Chimpanzees
When it comes to nature documentaries, no other team can craft such breathtaking, awe-inspiring imagery as David Attenborough and the BBC film crew. Exploring the intricate hierarchies of endangered animals around the world, BBC’s new nature documentary Dynasties gets up close and personal like never before, crafting stories full of tension, emotion and unforgettable characters.
The first episode sees us enter the lush jungles to find our Chimpanzee cousins, a group fronted by charismatic leader David. For 55 minutes we follow his journey from an Alpha male to the brink of exile and what happens to him beyond that point. During our stay with the chimps we witness power plays, impressive feats of courage and a shift in the balance of power during mating season. Captivating and engrossing throughout, the story told here is incredibly well done, serenaded by the calming voice of David Attenborough as he narrates David’s journey.
While the BBC nature documentaries have always had a level of prestige and polish about them, Dynasties goes one step further, bringing us a much more intimate look at some of the more endangered species around the world like never before. Some of the camera work is truly sublime and the editing second to none. From time lapse photography showing the growth of plants to numerous breathtaking aerial shots of David’s territory, these bite-size segments of film do well to break up the long shots of the chimpanzee group as they go about their day to day life.
It’s here where Dynasties really sets itself apart. Unlike some of the other nature documentaries BBC have put out that take a much broader look at different species, Dynasties is a much more intimate look at one group of animals. It’s something that works incredibly well here too and you really feel drawn to David as the leader of this tumultuous pack of chimpanzees that are on the brink of turning on him at any moment. A combination of tension and suspense grips the first half of the episode with the second half changing the emotional range to one of redemption and triumph. It’s truly an astonishing feat, especially given the fact this is all achieved through a combination of camera work and an epic orchestral score
Much like other David Attenborough documentaries, there’s a good 5 minute chunk at the end of the story dedicated to the “On Location” segment which is one of our personal favourites to see. Witnessing the sacrifices and dedication these men and women have made to film the animals in their natural locations whilst braving the elements and other predators in the area is testament to what a great job the crew have done in capturing such raw and emotionally charged footage.
With only 100 or so chimpanzees left in Western Africa and the Gold Rush gripping the nation, Dynasties’ first episode is a reminder of how precarious our natural world is and how close we are to losing some of the incredible species living on our planet. While these intelligent, emotional animals may be adaptable and able to cope with a lot, Dynasties is a timely reminder that they may not be around for generations to come and how lucky we are to witness such amazing creatures captured on film.