The Weird, The Wonderful & The Wicked
Returning for another episode of natural history, Seven Worlds, One Planet delivers another spectacular visual treat, and a harrowing, poignant reminder of our damaging impact on our planet. Asia is a beautiful, wondrous continent but as we’re shown here, it’s also one of extremes. Temperatures can plummet below -60 degrees while heating up to 90 degrees elsewhere.
We begin the episode with the Pacific Walrus in the arctic. With hundreds of thousands displaced thanks to climate change, harrowing footage ensues showing them plunging down cliffs and causing stampedes while polar bears feed on the remains. It’s a scene that’s been criticized for using the same footage as Netflix’s Our Planet but to be honest, it’s barely noticeable and works well enough for the context of the scene.
From here, we’re graced with a history lesson of the Himalayas and why they’re such magnificent mountain ranges. Snow monkeys, beautiful blue-faced creatures, huddle together in these areas and have to, thanks to a lack of food and bitter climates. As we soon learn, the tiniest of meals can cause the biggest of fights to break out. This trend of weird and wonderful creatures continues too, as we see a snake with a decoy Spider tail and lizards with flush necks, making up the unusual wildlife in both Iran and Northern India.
The final act of this episode tackles the problems nature faces with deforestation and the difficult balance between our natural world and humankind’s insatiable appetite for growth. Between special rhinos kept in captivity and orangutans struggling to survive, we receive a poignant finale involving fishermen feeding whale sharks.
To me though, the pièce de résistance of this episode comes from the on-location segment with Attenborough himself. Seeing the footage from 1956 of the lush rainforests compared to the barren wasteland of Borneo now is heartbreaking and while it’s something I’ve seen before, specifically from Di Caprio’s film Before The Flood (which is fantastic by the way), here it’s given so much more context with the animals struggling to survive.
Much like Netflix’s Our Planet, Seven Worlds, One Planet is a reminder of how much humankind is damaging Earth. The visuals here speak for themselves and despite the marveled beauty of seeing some of these amazingly shot segments, there’s a tinge of poignant guilt and harrowing sadness during every scene. Seven Worlds, One Planet may use recycled footage, but the result is still very much as effective as it was before – unless the big corporations around the world make big changes, the planet as we know it will soon face big changes, and perhaps not for the better.