Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
Should Christians be concerned about the environment? Answer
What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer
How might rain forest destruction affect our weather? Answer
Can evolution be the source of life in all its complexity? Answer
Where did life come from? Is evolution really the best scientific answer? Answer
|Featuring||Patrick Stewart (Narrator—voice: English version), James Earl Jones (Narrator—voice)|
|Director||Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield|
|Producer||Greenlight Media AG, BBC Worldwide, Disneynature, Stefan Beiten, Melissa Caron, Alastair Fothergill, Don Hahn, Michael Henrichs, Amanda Hill, Connie Nartonis Thompson, André Sikojev, Sophokles Tasioulis, Jon Thompson, Alix Tidmarsh, Nikolaus Weil|
|Distributor||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Disney Nature|
“The remarkable story of three families and their amazing journey across the planet we call Home.”
I’m going to be honest. I expected more out of this film. I was hoping for a new nature adventure geared toward kids that would help enhance our understanding of the Earth and help kids respect the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Unfortunately, Disney videographers and filmmakers must have stumbled into the editing studio where the great documentaries “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet” were made, and decided it was good enough just to use film they already had readily available, instead of going out and making a new experience for audiences.
The film itself encompasses the migration of families in different parts of the world: the polar bear, the humpback whale, and the elephant, mainly. It provides a look at their lives over the course of a year and their struggles to survive in our “ever changing world.” Geared towards kids, this film might be quite the snoozer for the parents, and nothing but eye candy for the children.
Thankfully, being a documentary, there’s no language or sex in this film, so one need not worry about the moral side of the newest installment from Disney Nature. Violence, however, is present. I expected more of a happy film, considering the goal and target audience, but surprisingly it really isn’t. There are 3 chase scenes where baby/juvenile animals are shown being attacked by predators to show what James Earl Jones’ so affectionately calls (without any copyright infringement repercussions) the “Circle of Life.” These scenes were very intense though. A young caribou is chased and hunted down to exhaustion by a wolf, a young antelope is tackled to the ground by a racing cheetah, and most disturbing of all, in one night vision scene, a young elephant is shown being attacked and taken down by a pride of lionesses on the hunt, and another baby elephant is shown walking off into the desert trying to find his mother, except he’s going the wrong direction, straight to his death. I and my fiancée were confused. We though this was about the great journey families make, not the tragedies they suffer. I’m not going to lie, it was slightly depressing stuff.
From a documentary/film standpoint, I think “Earth” greatly misses the target it was shooting for. Video footage that should be geared towards children with lots of movement and interesting animals falls bland in some spots with repeated shots of landscapes and open desert. And assuming you, as an adult, have watched documentaries in the past, you won’t find anything new (as a matter of fact you might find yourself saying like I did “wait a minute I’ve seen this before?”). The footage itself doesn’t break any new ground. The animals focused on are animals you can see in almost any zoo. The videographers didn’t find any new angle or experience, and I found most of the footage, as beautiful it was, to be a little “been there done that.”
In addition to the footage, I think the narration misses the mark, too. I always find that children focus on the video and the parents focus on not only the video, but also the factual information given in the audio. But it seemed like Disney tried to gear the narration of James Earl Jones towards the kids. Little jokes about onscreen antics and broad, sweeping generalizations about the Earth, the climate, and the animals are constant and leave older viewers with little to contemplate. Jones would say things like “And every year the ice melts sooner,” or “Every year, the deserts get bigger.” I wasn’t satisfied with that. How soon are they melting? Where? How much bigger are the deserts getting? At what rate? Which deserts? All of them? Half? This vague narrative approach to the documentary further solidified my view that Disney really didn’t do as much with this as they could’ve.
I also found the political undertones to be a bit misleading. Much of the film translated into a guilt trip because of the tone and mood, and left me feeling unhappy, rather than filled with a sense of learning and appreciation. I felt the film pointed too many fingers at humans, for all of our faults, for taking the Earth from the animals. Instead of just being a documentary about how we should take care of the Earth, I think it turned into a message of “look at where the Earth is: these dying baby animals and our climate change is humanity’s fault.” Whether or not you’re really a firm believer of this is beside the point. The point is, a documentary such as this should not brow beat, it should be to educate.
Thankfully, most of the underlying messages should be over the children’s heads. Chances are they’ll enjoy the sweet and cute pictures of baby animals and be fairly entertained by a fairly beautiful piece of film. You as a parent might get thoroughly bored, though, and roll your eyes a few times listening to some less than credible narration from James Earl Jones, watching video clips you might have already seen from past documentaries.
If you want my opinion, we as Americans always seem to have something to worry about, and it’s usually not well founded. In 1970, scientists predicted that by the year 2000, if we built more cars and more businesses, the air pollution would cause the average life expectancy to drop to 40 years old and the pollution would block 50 percent of the sun’s rays, thus cooling the planet. Obviously, we proved that worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but it sure doesn’t get you anywhere. God commanded us to take dominion, multiply, and use stewardship over the Earth (Genesis 1:26). I believe in that, but I don’t believe in worrying about the next big piece of environmental propaganda that’s supposed to destroy our Earth, because as far as I’m concerned, my God’s in control, and this planet isn’t going anywhere ‘til he says so.
In spite of all these negatives, however, I’m glad that I got to go sooner rather than later to see “Earth”, because Disney has vowed to “plant a tree” for every ticket sold in the opening week. That’s something I can be happy about: somewhere there’s a tree with my 8 dollars to thank. And that’s possibly all I really got out of “Earth.”
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.