Ten years ago BBC created the most impressive nature documentary I have ever seen. Planet Earth was highly publicized and promoted as the unbelievable footage captured was in the new at the time, 1080p high definition. The colorful dancing birds, ancient caves, nomadic herds, the great white shark jumping from the water to catch a seal, the elusive snow leopard and the deep unknown of the ocean were all presented in amazing high definition. The 11 episodes of Planet Earth raised the standards for future documentaries, including Plant Earth II.
I learned of Planet Earth II in a similar way to how I learned about the original Planet Earth. Back in 2006 when I still clicked through TV channels, I saw ads for Planet Earth that showed remarkable footage. The clips of the great white shark launching out of the ocean to kill a seal and of the dancing six-plumed bird of paradise were so jaw-dropping I couldn’t resist. A few months ago when scrolling through twitter my jaw dropped again when I saw the video clip of the baby iguana desperately running for its life as many snakes chased it with deathly intentions from every angle.
I bought Planet Earth II digitally through Amazon Instant Video. The convenience factor while being less expensive than the Blu-ray enticed me to buy the series digitally, a practice I am still uneasy about. The transition from physical to digital is inevitable but old materialistic habits die hard.
The second installment of Planet Earth included 6 episodes with a 7th chronicling the laborious making of process. The themes of each episodes listed in order are islands, mountains, jungles, deserts, grasslands, and cities. Several of these themes were covered in the original series but each focused on different animals and situations. Similar to the original Planet Earth in 2006, Planet Earth II was released on a new high definition format, 4k. I have heard mixed things about 4K and I do not own a 4K TV, but I did notice the improvements in camera technology for Planet Earth II. The motion triggered cameras were able to catch more intimate footage of elusive animals.
The islands and cities episodes stand out to me (all episodes were great) as they documented animals and living conditions I have never witnessed or considered. The penguins that live on the Zavodovski Island at the bottom of the world live a tremendously difficult life and the monkeys, leopards, birds, and fish that live in the cities around the world show how adaptable animals are to a changing environment.
David Attenborough’s perfected narration and mood setting music combined with incredible cinematography raised the already impossibly high standards set by the original Planet Earth. From the opening images of a slow moving sloth to the closing scenes of infant turtles wandering towards the city lights there was action, romance, heart break, and triumph all present in Planet Earth II revealing the natural life of creatures all around the globe.