David Attenborough may have done better, fresher and more ground-breaking work in his long and remarkably consistent career, but 'Our Planet' is still awe-inspiring and transfixing stuff with many memorable sequences and some of the most stunning visuals for any Attenborough documentary in recent years. Do also consider it as one of the television highlights this year thus far and in a different league to anything Netflix (spotty in their originals) has done.
Absolutely loved the previous six episodes. Learnt such a lot from them (like everything to do with dolphins in "High Seas" and the unique behaviours of ants, flamingoes and caterpillars) and they had scenes that were visually beautiful (the start of "One Planet" and the blue whale sequence from "High Seas"), emotionally impactful (the walrus scene in "Frozen Worlds"), tense (the cheetah hunt in "From Deserts to Grasslands" and occasionally amusing (the preening bird in "Jungles") in a way that one is shocked at how they were filmed in the first place and so intimately. That's the beauty with Attenborough documentaries though. The seventh and penultimate episode "Fresh Water" is not quite as amazing and is perhaps my least favourite of the series. It is still wonderful though.
It may not have a sequence that sticks in the mind as much as any of the ones mentioned above and it is not as illuminating or as fresh as a few of the previous episodes ("High Seas" and "From Deserts to Grasslands" especially).
So much works in "Fresh Water's" favour. Visually, it continues to amaze. The scenery is simply breath-taking, and is enhanced by cinematic-worthy photography with a wider range of techniques rarely seen before, a feast for the eyes and also expansive and intimate. The environment may look lovely, but like the environments in the previous episodes it is not without its unforgiving cruelty. The music fits with the mood and didn't come over as intrusive.
Regardless of whether what is covered is not as fresh as the rest of 'Our Planet', it still entertains, moves and educates. There is nothing too cute, too reassuring or too one-sided. The animals are easy to relate to without being over-humanised, as are their increasingly unpredictable struggles. The conservation/environmental aspect is at its strongest perhaps in this episode, this or "High Seas", but that didn't bother me. Didn't feel lectured to, it made me think of the causes, consequences and how to stop it and it is something important to talk about and be addressed.
As one can expect, the narration is very thought-provoking and never rambling or speculative. There are some interesting individual feeling stories here throughout and so many of the species are easy to relate to. A lot of information is covered but felt properly explored and not rushed or disjointed, and the facts educate and illuminate while not being compromised for the emotionally complex storytelling. Once again, Attenborough's distinctive and unequalled narrative delivery, with his unmistakable voice, is sincere, enthusiastic as well as understated. One can listen to him for a long time and not tire of him, no other nature/wildlife documentary narrator/presenter has made me feel this way.
Overall, my least favourite episode perhaps of the series but still wonderful for many reasons. 9/10
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