In the last few weeks I’ve watched two movies that are broadly similar, yet had very different effects on me. One inspired awe, while the other made me want to jump off a bridge.
One was Home:
Home is a 2009 documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The film is almost entirely composed of aerial shots of various places on Earth. It shows the diversity of life on Earth and how humanity is threatening the ecological balance of the planet.
The photography was amazing, while sometimes disorienting, the music beautiful.
Beauty and destruction
The movie showed scenes of extraordinary beauty, and scenes of tragic destruction.
The narrative (from memory) recited disturbing facts and figures about our human impact, mostly negative.
It seemed as though perhaps the first hour of the movie was hammering home the point that we’re wrecking our planet, our home in the universe.
It was relentless. I wanted to go jump off a bridge.
Fortunately the last 10 minutes or so offered some redemption. There are people doing restorative work. Though it seems these are small and isolated efforts.
In contrast, today I watched earth (2007), a BBC production:
Earth depicts the diversity of wild habitats and creatures across the planet and cautions the threats to their future survival, starting in the Arctic in January of one year and moving south, finishing in the Antarctic in the December of the same year.
Earth also featured beautiful music and beyond amazing photography. It was narrated by Patrick Stewart (‘Captain Picard’ of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame). He was a perfect choice.
Subtle and enchanting
This movie embodied subtlety and beauty. In 90 minutes it told us stories of families: of polar bears, whales, elephants and others. Not one human was in evidence in the movie, nor signs of human presence.
The stories were about the beauty and inter-dependence of the animals and the earth. There were cycles of life and death, depending on water, ice, rain and sunshine. We awakened in the Arctic spring and tracked South through the seasons to the Antarctic.
A desire to nurture
This movie was inspiring. It made me want to nurture these precious parts of our world, to savour them, to look after them.
And subtly, very subtly, we were also given the messages of how we are steadily bringing these fine systems to ruin. The Arctic sea ice is disappearing ever sooner. The polar bears need the ice as a base for finding food. Without it they will die.
The animals in the Kalahari need the rainfall. They trek hundreds of miles for weeks to reach water, but we’re putting barriers in their way. Without the water they die.
So subtle: the gentle heartbeat rhythm behind the music while we watch the animals, almost dying of thirst, enter the streams the rains have finally created.
I know which movie worked magic in me. Earth was a work of exceptional beauty: time lapse photography that showed snow melting, clouds forming; ultra slow motion images of the Great White Shark capturing its prey; heart-stopping moments wondering whether to hope the starving polar bear will catch its dinner or the baby walrus will escape the bear’s clutches.
Earth is a movie to bring hope, and the will to live, the will to aid our fellow planet-dwellers live.
It’s a masterpiece. It’s beautiful. It’s inspiring.
I hired Earth through iTunes movie rentals. If you haven’t yet watched it then add it to your wishlist right now.
Oh, and: the Aurora Australis, the Lynx, the Birds of Paradise, the Great White leaping …
The Great White Shark screenshot above was taken from the US official website, as I was unable to locate the UK official site. Apparently the US movie uses a different narrator.