14 October 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
Despite how much he apparently dislikes the term "national treasure", that term really does sum up David Attenborough to a tee. He is such a great presenter (in his 90s and still sounds, and looks on a side note, great) and whenever a new series of his is aired they are often among the best the BBC has done in years.
Am a great fan of a lot of Attenborough's work and BBC's nature documentaries with his involvement are among their best work in years. Have been watching the BBC less over time, but there are always exceptions, unexpected gems and expected treasures that come our way every now and again and their nature documentaries are the perfect examples of expected treasures. 'Life' is a crowning achievement for a documentary series and actually, like the best documentary shows, feels much more than that. As far as Attenborough's work goes too, 'Life' to me is one of his biggest achievements.
'Life' is an exceptionally well-made series first and foremost, in fact saying that doesn't do the production values justice. It is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (a great way of connecting even more with the animals), way and never looking static. In fact much of it is remarkably cinematic. The editing is always succinct and smooth and the scenery and various habitats are remarkably diverse and look speechlessly spectacular.
On a documentary level, 'Life' continually fascinates and illuminates, while there are some familiar facts here a lot of it was very much new (like a lot of the principles of evolution) and by the end of the series for me more was gotten out of it, and educated me much more than, anything taught when studying Geography in secondary school. Attenborough's narration helps quite significantly too, he clearly knows his stuff and knows what to say and how to say it. He delivers it with his usual richness, soft-spoken enthusiasm and sincerity, never talking down to the viewer and keeping them riveted and wanting to know more.
The wildlife and life-forms are both adorable and dangerous, the wide-ranging diversity of what was included was staggering and it was lovely to see a mix of the familiar and the not-so-familiar. How they adapt to their environments, why they behave the way they do, how nature works and how what the wildlife and life-forms do affects their environments were all touched upon and made their points subtly, not hammering it home too much (a potential danger with documentaries).
Many powerful and poignant moments, as well as suspenseful ones, while not trying too hard to evoke a viewer reaction. One really cares for what they're told and the wildlife. Each episode doesn't feel like an episodic stringing of scenes, but instead like the best nature documentaries each feels like their own story and journey, with real, complex emotions and conflicts and animal characters developed in a way a human character would in a film but does it better than several.
Overall, a crowning achievement, for Attenborough and nature documentaries in general. 10/10 Bethany Cox