David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet Parent Guide
Speaking more in sorrow than in anger, Attenborough describes the world's current crisis of diminishing biodiversity and proposes solutions. It could be depressing but it manages to be hopeful.
Parent Movie Review
Sir David Attenborough, renowned English naturalist and broadcaster begins his film testimonial in Chernobyl, discussing the 1984 explosion at the nuclear facility that forced the evacuation of the town. “Chernobyl was a single event,” he warns. “The true tragedy of our time is unfolding across the globe. I’m talking about the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.” Over his production’s 83 minutes, he details the scope of that tragedy and how it imperils our species’ survival.
In tones often nostalgic or elegaic, Attenborough reviews his own life and the parallel crisis unfolding in our ecosystem. As he reminisces about collecting fossils in the England of his childhood and meeting isolated tribespeople in remote jungles as an adult and then becoming aware of habitat loss and species on the brink of extinction, he reminds us that nature is interconnected and that our survival hinges on the health of the other creatures who inhabit this planet. Then he shows us how our actions endanger the entire planet, with particular emphasis on deforestation, overfishing, and habitat loss that decimates animal life, with compounding effects on the ecosystem.
Unsurprisingly, Attenborough’s incisive expose of the current environmental crisis is accompanied by glorious cinematography. With decades of nature documentaries under his belt, he ensures that his personal statement is matched with visuals of stunning power and beauty. It’s impossible to watch this documentary and not care about the fate of the amazing creatures with whom we share this fragile planet.
Thankfully, the film isn’t all doom and gloom – although the projections of a pending climate catastrophe could well keep you up at night. Attenborough is convinced that the solution is to “rewild the world”. He believes that the world could be wilder and healthier in a century if humans follow a number of recommendations ranging from reducing population growth and changing to plant based diets to switching to renewable energy and protecting fish stocks and reforestation. To back up his suggestions, he takes the cameras around the world for real life examples in Japan, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and the Pacific island of Palau.
Whether or not you agree with every suggestion made by this naturalist, his witness statement is definitely worth watching. It will increase your appreciation for our planetary home and can trigger family discussions about consumption and environmental stewardship. After all, as Attenborough reminds us, “We are facing nothing less than the collapse of the living world, the very thing that gave birth to our civilization. The thing we rely on for every element of the lives we lead.” If we are to pass on a flourishing planet to our children and grandchildren, it’s worth at least discussing our options for healing it.Directed by Alastair Fothergill & Jonnie Hughes. Starring David Attenborough. Running time: 83 minutes. Theatrical release October 4, 2020. Updated October 5, 2020
Watch the trailer for David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
Rating & Content Info
Why is David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet rated PG? David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic content.
Violence: There are scenes of men firing harpoons at whales: whales thrash around in bloody water. There are repeated images of dead fish; some partially dismembered. There are pictures of forest fires. An animal is seen falling to its death.
Sexual Content: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated October 5, 2020
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet Parents' Guide
You can learn more about some of the issues raised in the film from these sources.
The Guardian: What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?
The National Wildlife Federation: Biodiversity
CohabInitiative: The importance of biodiversity to human health
World Wildlife Federation: Deforestation and Forest Degradation
National Geographic: Deforestation explained
Yale Environment: Rivers in the Sky: How Deforestation Is Affecting Global Water Cycles
Conservation: What on Earth is “reforestation”?
World Wildlife Federation: Overfishing
National Geographic: This Small Island Nation Makes a Big Case for Protecting Our Oceans
Center for American Progress. How Marine Protected Areas Help Fisheries and Ocean Ecosystems
The Conversation: How a global ocean treaty could protect biodiversity in the high seas
World Economic Forum. Renewable energy could power the world by 2050. Here’s what that future might look like.
Environment America. Renewables on the Rise
World Wildlife Fund: Our planet is warming.
The New York Times: How bad is climate change now?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Sir David Attenborough has written numerous books on the environment and his experiences chronicling the world’s animals and wild places. These include A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future, Journeys to the Other Side of the World, Amazing Rare Things and Drawn from Paradise.
Related home video titles:
The documentary, I Am Greta, features Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist from Sweden who has advocated for policies to remediate climate change. Another documentary focused on climate change is An Inconvenient Truth, which initiated the widespread public discussion on the issue.
Pixar’s Wall-E is the animated tale of a robot tasked with collecting trash on an abandoned and garbage covered planet Earth. When a visiting robot discovers a plant growing on the surface, this triggers a train of events that could return humans to their original home.
In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the past extinction of humpback whales almost leads to the total destruction of the planet…until Captain Kirk and his intrepid crew go back to the 20th century in an attempt to “save the whales”.
Interstellar imagines a dystopic world so ravaged by climate change that astronauts head out into space to find a new home for humanity.
In The Biggest Little Farm a determined couple buys an ecologically devastated farm and uses natural methods to restore it to health and productivity.
If you want to celebrate the animals that share our planet, Disneynature has plenty to choose from. These include: African Cats, Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, Oceans, Dolphin Reef, Born in China, Elephant, Bears, Chimpanzee, and Penguins,