David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet




An account of the state of our natural world with an awful warning to all of us.


David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

The subtitle to David Attenborough’s film refers not only to the natural history of planet Earth itself but also to his own life which has mainly been taken up with the study of animals and their behaviour and latterly global ecology. He is now 94 years old and his interest in life on our planet began from the age of ten. In one way or another he has always been involved with understanding the natural world. Even when he was running the BBC2 television channel in the 1960s, he continued to make programmes on the subject. He went on to make a variety of television shows until the Big One happened with the beginning of his Life on Earth series in 1979. Its success led to several further programmes and more in the ‘Life’ series on plants, birds, mammals, and so on.

There is surely no better authority than Attenborough to convince us now that we need to be saving a world he has so assiduously covered on television. His latest film opens with him visiting Chernobyl which has, after over thirty years, remained exactly as it was at the time of its nuclear explosion – the same, that is, apart from the plant and animal life that has continued to flourish on the site. As he takes us through the years of his professional life, Attenborough charts what has happened to the natural living world. Because of the effects of global warming and climate change, the melting of the polar ice caps, the rabid destruction of rainforests, the death of coral reefs, the overuse of soil leading to food shortages, coupled with population increases, our future life on Earth could be threatened with ultimate extinction.

This is Attenborough’s witness statement born out of his own lifetime of experience and, he says, if we don’t do something now, it may be too late. Biodiversity is one answer plus limiting the population growth, increasing world healthcare, putting natural elements such as wind, water, geothermal and solar energy to work, limiting the overfishing of coastal waters, stopping deforestation and changing our eating habits by the increased use of plant foods over meat products.

All this may not happen in David Attenborough’s lifetime but he still presents a cogently urgent warning to us all while we still have time to change our view of this Earth of ours. It might be a case of the nonagenarian Attenborough passing the baton to the teenager Greta Thunberg (q.v. I Am Greta) to continue conveying the message that will affect all of us and the future of life on our planet. If we stop ruining the natural world about us and take stock of the problems, life on Earth might just continue to survive, just as it has done again in Chernobyl.




Featuring  David Attenborough and Max Hughes (as the young David).


Dir Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, Pro Jonnie Hughes, Screenplay David Attenborough, Ph Gavin Thurston, Ed Martin Elsbury, Music Steven Price.


Altitude Film Entertainment/Silverback Films/World Wildlife Fund/Netflix-Altitude Films.
83 mins. UK. 2020. Rel: 28 September 2020. Cert. PG.