Sensationalizing nature

I grew up watching nature documentaries such as Sir David Attenborough’s Life On Earth (late 70’s, early 80’s). I greatly looked forward to these shows each week – the brilliant camera work and informative, engaging narrative had me totally captivated. These one hour documentaries took me away to amazing places with amazing creatures and helped instill in me a greater appreciation, understanding and awe of nature.

In recent years, I’ve noticed a sensationalizing of nature in many recently released documentaries; where the focus appears to be on special effects, computer graphics and exaggeration of information. When I catch a few minutes of these shows, I’m often left wondering whether I just watched a documentary or a science fiction movie.

Perhaps I’m getting old and disconnected from the young ‘uns of today – but is this approach really necessary? Does it cheapen nature? Are children disappointed when they come across some of these animals in their environment only to find they aren’t what these nature “documentaries” make them out to be? Perhaps this approach is what is necessary to capture our attention these days, which is kind of sad.

Does the apparent trend in production create an awe of nature that I experienced in my own youth, or merely a transient “wow” factor – where the visual effects are remembered more than the animal and it’s qualities?

I’m not sure, it certainly doesn’t in me – I get impatient waiting for the whizz-bang graphics and empty commentary to end and for the good information to begin. I rarely watch these shows nowadays; preferring to learn via the web.

During my online expeditions tonight, I was very pleased to find Sir David Attenborough still producing documentaries – the last being in 2005. He must be at least 300 years old by now! But seriously, he’s been involved in broadcasting for over half a century!

I was wondering if he had succumbed to the sci-fi, pow, zowie type approach to filming nature shows and thankfully, it seems that he hasn’t. Watching some clips available online from his latest documentary, “Life In The Undergrowth” was a wonderfully familiar experience. If you haven’t yet experienced nature through the eyes, lense and voice of Sir Attenborough and his camera teams, I highly recommend the experience to you and your children! Captivating, beautiful and very educational.