Seasons

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Seasons Movie Poster Image
Beautifully filmed docu tells story of European wildlife.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 95 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Teaches kids all about the featured animals and their history and habitats.

Positive Messages

Positive messages surrounding the relationship between mothers and their offspring -- that mothers take care of their young and make sure they're adequately prepared to face their environment. Promotes curiosity about the natural world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

It's difficult to see animals going about their lives as role models, but there is a montage of various animal mothers feeding their young (usually insects), which shows that even in the wild, mothers take care of their children. Humans aren't portrayed quite as positively, since they're shown as conquerors and hunters who encroached on the animals' habitats and forced them into domesticity.

Violence & Scariness

Nature can be violent, and the documentary shows some dead deer, young wolves eating a warthog (and then fighting amongst themselves while eating), owls killing hedgehogs, and bears fighting. A human hunter shoots arrows at animals. Other scenes of animals acting aggressively.

Sexy Stuff

Scenes of an animal giving birth and nursing its young.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Seasons is a beautifully filmed documentary about the history of wildlife in the forests of Eastern and Western Europe. With minimum narration, the movie focuses on the life cycles of various animals -- bears, wolves, foxes, owls, big cats, hedgehogs, and more -- throughout the four seasons in various eras. The film chronicles the animals in their natural habitats and then slowly incorporates human involvement and impact on the creatures. Although the documentary is family-friendly, note that it doesn't sugar-coat the more violent aspects of life in the wild: Scenes show animals fighting aggressively, even killing and feasting on their prey. There are also scenes of an animal giving birth and nursing its young.

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What's the story?

SEASONS -- a nature documentary from French filmmaker Jacques Perrin and co-director Jacques Cluzaud -- follows the animals of the European forests from the last Ice Age to modern times. In the same way that the filmmakers chronicled the lives of sea creatures in Oceans and birds in Winged Migration, in Seasons they trace the evolutionary life cycles of European land creatures (both predators and prey) throughout the seasons and the ages.

Is it any good?

Visionary camera work immerses audiences in the world of European forest animals, making sure we know how humans changed -- and destroyed -- the idyllic, if occasionally vicious, circle of life. Seasons is the result of more than four years of footage and research in the forests of France, Poland, and Norway. It gives viewers an up-close-and-personal look at the way the animals, including deer, lynx, fox, bison, horses, owls, wolves, bears, hedgehogs, and other creatures live (and in particular, hunt) when left alone by humans.

Speaking of humans, they only make an appearance halfway in -- and once they do, they're clearly positioned as the film's villains. The animals had coexisted with their natural roles in the food chain until people -- and their weapons and homes and thirst for land -- emerged as rulers over beasts. This part of the documentary isn't quite as effective or compelling (at this point, who doesn't know that humans aren't the best when it comes to animal protection?) as the scenes with just the animals. Whether it's the birth of a baby fawn or a pack of wolves tearing into a warthog, Seasons' best parts are all about the creatures' life in the wild.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the animal violence in Seasons. Is it OK for younger viewers? What's the difference between seeing animal violence and human violence?

  • Unlike many American-made nature documentaries, this one doesn't have constant narration or voice-over. Which way do you prefer, and why?

  • What makes documentaries about the animal kingdom so interesting? What are some of your favorites?

  • How does Seasons promote curiosity? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

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