One Planet. One Big Problem.
Netflix’s latest nature documentary Our Planet is a gorgeously shot, beautifully realized series. It’s one that brings the bittersweet beauty of our planet into full perspective whilst delivering some breathtaking camera work and an important message about our impact on the planet.
The first episode begins with a brief history of our planet, including Homo Sapiens’ early origins right the way through to modern day. Wildlife numbers have declined by 60% and as the human population continues to rise around the planet, this is starting to have a profound impact on our delicately balanced eco-system. Through the narration of David Attenborough, he warns us that this can no longer be taken for granted and we need to take action now in order to preserve our planet for future generations.
After this brief prologue, the episode begins on the Peruvian coastline in South America. Birds flock in their millions as anchovies gather under the crystal clear water. Backed by an exciting, orchestral score, these birds dive into the water in chaotic, mesmerising fashion. Contrasting these dives into the water, we get a glimpse of dolphins too, who have been well documented to engage in these mass-feeding events as well. They’re after mackerel which have also gathered in vast swarms to feed.
After seeing the sheer number of species gathering and taking part in these mass-feed events, the episode cuts across to the gorgeous salt flats in Africa for a juxtaposing view on life. This, we’re told, is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth and it’s easy to see why. The sweltering heat paves way for an establishing shot of solitary creatures looking for water across the desolate salt wasteland. Zebra, elephants and ostrich hop across the landscape desperate for water.
Amazingly, this place is transformed into a blue paradise at certain times of the year. Time lapse camera work reveals rain soaking the area and paving the way for flamingo to dance across this surreal, blue landscape. Some of the shots during these scenes are truly breathtaking and seeing a rainbow glistening across the water is something that looks like it’s been ripped right from a fantasy painting; it really is beautiful.
After an exciting segment involving wildebeest trying to evade wild-dogs, the episode ends in the snowy North with wolves navigating this treacherous terrain. All of this culminates in a celebration and appreciation for the trials and tribulations our species have to take every single day.
Despite the celebratory mood for much of the episode, One Planet ends with a very real, timely reminder that our time on this planet is finite. A colossal iceberg breaking up, flooding the sea with fresh water is a reminder of what’s happening at our polar regions and how we need to take big action to prevent things from getting worse.
The first episode really serves as a way to ease us into the rest of the episodes that look much more closely at different landscapes on the planet. As a broad overview of the series, One Planet is a fantastic way to begin this nature documentary series before the rest of the episodes pave way for a closer look at animals around the world.