Review of the documentary series A Perfect Planet

“Perfect Planet” / A Perfect Planet

Genre documentary series
Creator Alastair Fathergill
Narrator David Attenborough
Channel BBC One
Release year 2021
Series 5
Site IMDb

A Perfect Planet is a collaboration between David Attenborough and the Silverback Films team led by Alastair Fothergill. It was this duo who gave us such great animal documentaries as The Trials of Life (1990), Life in the Freezer (1993), The Blue Planet (2001), Planet Earth (2006), Frozen Planet (2011), The Hunt ( 2015). More recently, the same creative team worked on the series Our Planet for Netflix. Indeed, Our Planet and A Perfect Planet have a lot in common – both series tell how the natural conditions, biomes and climatic zones of our planet are perfectly balanced, how they complement each other and support the Earth’s ecosystem, allowing the development of all the diversity of life on it. And how we humans, the most crushing of the forces present on the planet, affect all life around.


Five episodes of A Perfect Planet are dedicated to the natural forces on which life on Earth depends – volcanoes, sunlight, atmospheric phenomena, ocean currents and … people. Actually, the series are still called: Volcano, The Sun, Weather, Oceans, Humans. And if the first four contain many unique shots with the most unexpected “actors” in the lead roles, then the last episode consists of 80% of reused footage and comments from scientists. The remaining 20% ​​of the screen time in the Humans series is devoted to projects that can, if not stop, then at least slow down the negative processes that affect wildlife and save the most vulnerable species. In many ways, the theses that David Attenborough and the experts invited by him proclaim in this part of the series repeat the theses that have already been voiced in other projects of the naturalist, in particular, in the same documentary David Attenborough: Life on our planet / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet. However, this is just the case when repetition will not be superfluous at all.


But back to the first four episodes, showing the impact of four key natural forces on different biomes, and how animals adapt to the most incredible conditions of life on Earth.

To be honest, in my life I have seen probably fifty films and series about wildlife, and I never cease to be amazed at how diverse and amazing life is and how filmmakers manage to find more and more new species of animals, stories about which can make you smile or feeling of sincere empathy in the audience. Living in an amazing and strange symbiosis of gannets and vampire finches; not afraid of the scorching sun Saharan silver ants (runner ants); terrestrial conolophos iguanas laying their eggs in the crater of an active volcano and their relatives the Galapagos marine iguanas “grazing” in the stormy ocean; the last wild bactrian camels hiding from people in the Gobi desert; giant mantas, it is not clear how they know the time of the onset of a high tide to the nearest minute, etc. Life is incredibly diverse and amazing, and I would like to say a huge thank you to those who allow us to at least take a glimpse behind the scenes of this fantastic performance.


And by the way, following the example of Earth at Night in Color, this series also shows people standing behind the cameras and ready to do anything for rare shots. At the end of the first four episodes, you will see short stories about the cameramen who worked on this or that episode, and how they searched for rare animals and equipped locations for filming. Usually such materials end up in the bonus section on Blu-ray editions or as separate videos on YouTube, but more viewers will probably see such tie-ins at the end of each series. Again, in Attenborough’s very first films, made 60 years ago, people with cameras and microphones often got into the frame.


Judging by the number of wildlife films coming out lately, documentary filmmakers are in a rush to capture the last untouched corners of nature and animals that may disappear in the next 5-10 years. They seem to be telling all of us “look what we still have”, because in the near future this phrase may turn into a miserable “look what we still had quite recently”. And although in the latest series of A Perfect Planet we are told about initiatives that can still save the planet, the optimism in the voices of experts seems a little artificial and, as one of them correctly says: “It will not get better.” Well, all that’s left for us is these series.

As always, when it comes to wildlife documentaries, we recommend watching A Perfect Planet on the biggest screen in the highest quality available to you. And, of course, it’s better in English, yet David Attenborough’s voice is worth it to hear it, and not the voice acting, no matter how good it may be.

Pluses: Unique shots taken in different parts of the Earth; interesting stories about animals, the existence of which you did not even suspect; David Attenborough as Narrator; “How It Was Filmed” tie-ins at the end of each episode Cons: Episode 5 contains few unique footage, rather summarizing what was said in the first four parts Conclusion:

Another great BBC wildlife series that we didn’t expect

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