Review of the documentary film David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Pros: One of the most personal works of the famous naturalist; archival footage from Attenborough’s films over the years; in addition to the obvious statement of problems, some methods for solving them are also proposed. Cons: Most of the issues raised by Attenborough in this film have already been repeatedly discussed in his other works David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet / “David Attenborough: Life on Our Planet”

Genre documentary
Hosted by David Attenborough
Altitude Film Entertainment Studios, Netflix
Year of release 2020
Site IMDb

Spanning seven decades, Sir David Attenborough’s career is truly unique. He was one of the first to film wildlife and tell television viewers about it, first in the UK and then around the world. Having started working for the BBC in 1951, when televisions were still a rarity, he worked as the general manager of this state-owned broadcaster in the 60s and 70s, while still making films and TV series. Attenborough, who turned 94 this year, is the only person to have won BAFTA awards for black and white, colour, 3D, HD and 4K programmes. And he continues to work actively to this day.

In 2019 alone, the series Our Planet, voiced and presented by him, were released on Netflix and Seven Worlds, One Planet on BBC One / BBC Earth, plus the hour-long film Climate Change – The Facts. In 2020 – films Extinction: The Facts and David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet. Right now, David Attenborough has resumed work on the new series Green Planet, which was interrupted due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Amazing performance, especially at that age.


David Attenborough’s career undoubtedly deserves the deepest respect, and David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet is a kind of summing up of a long creative life. And besides, this is Attenborough’s very personal indictment of humanity. Filming animals for 70 years, the naturalist repeatedly visited places he had visited before and saw with his own eyes how wildlife retreats under the pressure of humans, how during the life of one person the landscape changes beyond recognition, and entire ecosystems disappear. It is clear how difficult it is for Attenborough to give this evidence. He is physically hurt by the fact that many of the things he saw with his own eyes will no longer be seen by anyone else. That humanity itself is joyfully rushing into the abyss, from which it will be very, very difficult to get out. But it’s still possible.


In fact, Attenborough has been talking about the problems of declining forests, declining biodiversity, ocean pollution, thawing permafrost and shrinking ice caps for many years. These themes are raised in one way or another in all his series and films of the last three decades. That is why A Life On Our Planet may seem to many to be a repeat of itself, a film assembled from pieces of other programs. This is partly true; you have probably already seen some of the footage used in the program. But in addition to stating the problems, Attenborough this time also focuses on ways to solve them, proposing, albeit somewhat utopian, but feasible steps to prevent a global crisis. It’s not for nothing that the film begins and ends in Chernobyl. Having shown how the earth can become uninhabitable due to human error, Attenborough shows how it can heal itself if human pressure is removed. Everything will be fine with the planet, but not with us.


David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet doesn’t have much of the beautiful wildlife footage that BBC and David Attenborough films are famous for; on the contrary, many of the shots here are not at all pleasant. But it’s very nice to see the youngest Attenborough in different parts of the world in archival footage. The creators repeatedly turn to such excerpts from old programs, illustrating the stages of the naturalist’s career and some of the theses he puts forward, so that A Life On Our Planet is also a kind of creative biography of Attenborough. Moreover, there is even a small play sequence in which the young actor portrays a teenage Attenborough exploring an abandoned quarry in search of fossils. Just think, this was in the 30s. last century!


Undoubtedly, David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet cannot compete in beauty with the series Our Planet or the series about the microworld Tiny World, released on Apple TV+. This film has a completely different task. However, it is still worth watching. And not only out of respect for Sir David Attenborough, but rather out of respect for ourselves and our neighbors on the planet.


A poignant declaration of love for wildlife from a naturalist who saw with his own eyes its destruction during the life of one man

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