The Year Earth Changed (2021) – Apple TV+ Movie Review

A Hopeful Glance At An Unforgettable Moment In History

There is a lot of doom and gloom in the news right now. Families are unable to reunite thanks to the travel ban and the pandemic itself continues to play havoc with our way of life. Through all of this, it can sometimes be difficult to find some positivity to cling to. The Year Earth Changed serves as that glimmer of positivity; a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that this lockdown has had positive effects on our natural world.

Narrated by David Attenborough, this 47 minute documentary film jets across the globe to showcase the extraordinary changes lockdown has brought to the planet. Cheetahs are able to kill more plentifully. Birdsong cuts through the cacophony of noise pollution in San Francisco. And pollution levels across the globe have dropped. This really is the year that’s allowed our planet to breathe again.

With many of us working from home, the film crews here are given free reign to really document these animals and how they behave with their new routines. What’s particularly great here is the amount of drone footage captured. Keeping with the motif of leaving animals in peace, there are a lot of aerial shots throughout the film. In fact, the shots capturing empty cities, coupled with some nice fade shots between our urban jungles and natural world, are easily some of the best captured this year.

Unlike many of the more recent natural history documentaries, The Year Earth Changed takes a distinctly positive slant. The film does, of course, highlight the damaging presence humans have but the recovery – and the extraordinary rate of change – is ultimately what’s celebrated here.

The film also layers in some thought provoking ideas about how to live more harmoniously alongside animals. It all sounds pretty basic stuff in truth, but as a species humans are a destructive, noisy and chaotic force. Whether these tips will be taken onboard or not, remains to be seen.

If you’re looking for more positive news to come from this pandemic, Apple TV+’s latest documentary film is well worth a watch. It also helps that national treasure David Attenborough gives the film his usual prestige shine. This may well have been a year to forget for many people, but for our animal brethren it’s been an unforgettably prosperous one. This is a wonderful, celebratory look at nature’s recovery – even if it is only a temporary respite.


The Year Earth Changed releases 16th April 2021 on Apple TV+

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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