Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life, Concluded

Life was good, of course. The BBC natural history camera work was predictably dazzling; to be sure, I could sit there for hours, letting the images wash over me and listening to David Attenborough's authoritative-enthusiastic voice saying what was going on.

Still - previous BBC superb-pictures-and-Attenborough series had some kind of structure and theme. Yeah, I'm old-fashioned enough to think that a BBC/Open University natural history programme probably ought to have some kind of educational content. This one, I can only assume, was another part of the grand project of getting people to buy into HD television. Well, tough, guys - you made it too damn pretty in standard format to make me yearn for better.

And the sense of it all being a big, classy sales pitch was strengthened by the persistent notes of anthropomorphism and sentimentality. Last night's concluding piece on primates proved especially susceptible; although we were told that the low-status Japanese monkeys who didn't get to sit in the nice thermal pools were possibly going to freeze to death in consequence, that skimmed past on the way to a lot of shots of cuddly chimpanzees. Nary a sight of dominance fights, infanticide, or use of handy small monkeys as blunt instruments in combat was there. I thought that Attenborough was quite prone to pointing out the dark side of our nearest cousins' home life, with all that hints at.

Still, if we're going to be sold to, I want to be sold to with fabulous camerawork, bizarre insights into the sex lives of ring-tailed lemurs, and cute little big-eyed tarsiers suddenly flashing scary pointy teeth.

1 comment:

Owen Smith, Cambridge UK said...

David Attenborough did not write the Life series, as I understand it he's just the narrator.