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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is a must-watch nature documentary that offers a bleak, but also hopeful, look at climate change. The natural historian, Sir David Attenborough looks back at his long career and assesses the state of the planet and what needs to be done in order to save it. Much of the conversation is somber, with talk about declining animal populations and the destruction of the planet. However, in the final third of the film, Attenborough does offer hope with a list of actions that can be made to hep prevent Earth from further decline. The film includes clips from Attenborough's previous documentaries -- some as far back as the 1950s -- as well as contemporary footage, both of which capture incredible moments of the natural world. Some of this footage also includes upsetting imagery such as animals falling to their deaths. Due to the seriousness of the documentary, parents may wish to consider how prepared their kids are for the realties discussed, or at least be prepared for difficult, albeit important, conversations.
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What's the story?
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET is the natural historian's "witness statement" about the current plight of the world. As he looks back on his many adventures, the 93-year-old Attenborough also takes stock of the impact humans are having on the environment. The planet is heading for irreversible damage, but Attenborough gives hope by laying out some measures that can be implemented today to save ourselves and the planet we call home.
Is it any good?
This powerful documentary finds the much-loved and well-respected natural historian in a somber mood. For the first two thirds of David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, Attenborough doesn't sugarcoat the negative impact humans have had on the natural environment. Talk of lost species, uninhabitable areas, and irreversible damage are backed up with increasingly depressing facts and figures projected on screen. While the documentary provides a chance for the the 93-year-old to look back on his remarkable life -- archive footage provides some of the film's more lighter moments -- this is less a celebration, more a warning.
One of Attenborough's biggest strengths has always been his ability to replicate the emotions of the viewer. He looks just as excited when encountering a rare species as we are witnessing it on screen. It's why, when talking directly to camera, his desperate plea for change is so hard hitting. Yet despite the gloomy future portrayed, the final third of the film offers hope. Hope that is delivered inspiringly by the man himself. Change, he argues is not an option, it is a necessity. But it can be done -- Attenborough lists a number of ways in which people can help. Attenborough calls A Life on Our Planet his witness statement. It's also perhaps his most important film yet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the environmental message in David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. What can you do to make a positive change?
The documentary contains some stark warnings about the future of our planet. Did you find this scary? Is it difficult to keep a positive attitude in light of worrisome news about the environment and the world?
Discuss the life of Sir David Attenborough. How do you think he feels looking back on his long and exciting career? Do you think his vast experience means we should pay more attention to what he has to say?
- In theaters: September 28, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: October 4, 2020
- Cast: David Attenborough
- Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Jonathan Hughes
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Curiosity
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic content
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 1, 2021
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