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David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet – A Review
By Jason Peters
26 September 2020

The much anticipated "witness statement" from David Attenborough, produced by WWF and Silverback Films, is coming to the cinema screens, for one night on the 28th of September featuring an exclusive conversation with Sir David Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin, and then globally on Netflix from the 4th of October 2020.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

In more than 90 years, Attenborough has visited every continent on the globe. Now, for the first time he reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen. Honest, revealing and urgent, David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet is a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations.

The film, which serves as Attenborough’s witness statement for the natural world, will screen in select cinemas across the UK, the Netherlands, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Australia and New Zealand, before being released widely to theatres in those territories. Tickets are on sale now.

Audiences watching Attenborough’s story on the big screen will have the unique chance to watch an exclusive conversation between Sir David Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin. This will be available in cinemas only. The legendary broadcasters share a passion for exploring our vast planet and a desire to protect it for future generations.

The film has been created by award-winning natural history filmmakers Silverback Films and global environmental organisation WWF. The film will launch on Netflix globally this autumn.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
Sir David Attenborough pictured in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. A portrait of Sir David Attenborough in the Maasai Mara
in Kenya while filming David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. Credit: Conor McDonnell / WWF-UK


Narrator: Sir Dacid Attenborough
Directed by: Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes, Keith Scholey
Producer: Jonnie Hughes
Executive Producers: Colin Butfield, Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey
Original Music by: Steven Price
Editor: Martin Elsbury
Director of Photography: Gavin Thurston.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
Aerial shot of Chernobyl, Ukraine. Humans are facing the collapse of the natural stability of our planet. We must restore its biodiversity and rediscover how to live in balance with nature. Credit: WWF-UK / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Sir David Attenborough pictured in Chernobyl, Ukraine while filming David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.
Credit: Joe Fereday / Silverback Films

Film-maker’s Statements:

“For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections. This film comes at a monumental time in humankind’s history when world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time.” Colin Butfield, Executive Producer

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
Sir David Attenborough pictured inside derelict building in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Credit: Joe Fereday / Silverback Films

Sir David pictured with executive producers Keith Scholey, Silverback Films, and Colin Butfield, WWF, in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Credit: Conor McDonnell / WWF-UK

“I’ve worked with David on many projects throughout my career, but to collaborate on this film, which is so important at this time, has been a real privilege. At 94 years old, his knowledge and insight of the natural world remains as relevant and cherished today as it was the first time he introduced the British public to pangolins and sloths on television. “As we rebuild from the pandemic, Sir David’s reflections and messages of hope feel particularly timely and relevant. He not only addresses why we must urgently mend our relationship with nature, but also offers solutions to ensuring a safe and sustainable future for our planet and its people.” Keith Scholey, Director & Executive Producer

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
Sir David Attenborough pictured in the Maasai Mara in Kenya while filming David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. Credit: Keith Scholey / Silverback Films

Sir David Attenborough pictured with director and producer Jonnie Hughes (Silverback Films) in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Credit: Conor McDonnell / WWF-UK

Throughout his career, Sir David Attenborough has made hundreds of hours of iconic television, yet A Life on Our Planet is his first feature film. Why did he choose this film to make the move to the big screen, and why now? The film’s producer-director, Jonnie Hughes, explains its genesis. David has witnessed a serious decline in the living world over his lifetime. He has seen the rainforests retreating and the grasslands emptying, and has searched ever harder for species hanging on in hidden corners of the world. He’s observed a downward trend that is set to cause a disaster far more profound and with more lasting impacts than the desolation of Chernobyl – a decline that will have a more limited impact on his life, but will come to define the lives of all those who follow him. He is dedicated to lending his considerable profile to efforts to halt and then reverse this decline, and he’s in a good place to do so.

“Saving our planet is no longer a technological problem, it’s a communications challenge,” David has said on several important stages. To bring about the wholesale change required to transition to a sustainable existence on Earth, we all need to hear a new story – a positive, inspiring one in which we take control of our impact and aspire to a future in balance with nature. A key component of David’s efforts to assist in this great communications challenge is this film.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Palm oil plantation next to forested region in Borneo. In order to rewild the world, we must immediately halt deforestation and grow crops like palm oil and soya only on land deforested long ago.
Credit: Netflix / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Deforestation and nature loss are major causes of global warming. Forests are a central part of our planet’s recovery. They are the best technology nature has for locking away carbon and they play a crucial role in the fight against global warming. Credit: Netflix / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

In 2014, when we at Silverback Films were working with both WWF and David on the Netflix series Our Planet, WWF calculated that populations of wild animals had declined on average by more than half since 1970. This shocking statistic made real the steady dismantling of the living world that David had become increasingly aware of throughout his career. It quantified the terrifying extent of our impact and qualified that, in addition to climate change, a second red warning light was now flashing on the dashboard of Earth – ‘biodiversity loss’.

It also made us all decide we urgently needed to make a single film that broadcast this biodiversity crisis far and wide – David’s witness statement and his vision for the future – a personal account of a story that involves us all.

David is clearly troubled by the vision he has. He knows what happens next. We humans will, accidentally, clumsily, destabilise nature. We’ll tip the world into a sixth mass extinction. Nature, our life-support machine, will seize up. We are, it is suddenly clear, involved in an act of self-destruction.

Unless we build a new kind of life on our planet.

And David’s here to tell us how.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Fish stocks have been over-fished to critical levels. Humans have over-fished to critical levels. No-Fish Zones can help to increase populations of fish while at the same time helping reefs to recover.
Credit: Netflix / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Solar farm in Morocco. Morocco now generates 40% of its power from a network of renewable power plants, including the world’s largest solar farm. Credit: Netflix / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Statement from Sir David Attenborough about the COVID-19 pandemic and tackling the Climate and Nature Crisis:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused, and will continue to cause, immense suffering. If there is hope that can come out of it then that may arise from the whole world having experienced a shared threat and found a sense that we are all in it together. The same unique brains and communication skills that fuelled the development of our civilisations now have access to technologies and institutions that allow all nations of the world to collaborate and cooperate should we choose to do so. “The time for pure national interests has passed. If we are to tackle climate change, enable sustainable development and restore biodiversity, then internationalism has to be our approach. In doing so, we must bring about a greater equality between what nations take from the world and what they give back. The wealthier nations have taken a lot and the time has now come to give.”

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet | Official Trailer | Netflix

The film starts out with David Attenborough in Chernobyl, where he makes a comparison to what happened there following a nuclear disaster to what could happen everywhere should we not heed the many warnings being presented to us now.

He speaks earnestly to camera "I am David Attenborough and I’m 93. This is my witness statement.” The film goes on to look back at Sir David's long career as a broadcaster, that is more than sixty years, over which time he has seen incredible and alarming changes in the natural world.

The tone and mood of the film is serious and sombre, with David delivering stark facts alongside the beautiful imagery. The message is clear: Time is running out for Our Planet. Perhaps it would be better to say The Planet, as it doesn't belong to us, as a species, we merely inhabit this planet but have learnt to exploit it on a grand scale, very much to its' detriment.

The film feels very personal, hard-hitting too. David's oh so familiar, reassuring voice has emotion it it when talking about the issues facing us and the planet. Facts and figures are presented in a very clear and convincing way. There can be no denying.

He says things like "If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us" and "We need to rediscover how to be sustainable".

He also speak about our over-consumption of animal products saying "Large carnivores are rare in nature because it takes a lot of prey to support each of them. The planet can't support billions of large meat eaters ... there just isn’t the space. If we all had a largely plant-based diet, we would need only half the land we use at the moment."

And he said much else ... Listen!

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Everyone should watch this film and take serious note of David Attenborough's warnings of where we are heading unless we take decisive action now. The climate emergency is very real and we cannot in good conscience ignore it, for each and every one of our own personal actions impact on the future of the planet that we live on. We must do far, far better.

This is a very important film. The most important film ever made by David Attenborough in my opinion. But, we all need to listen, and act on what this very respected and knowing elder man is saying. There can be no excuses not to.

Am happy to see that he is still hopeful.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Food production in The Netherlands. The Netherlands is one of the world's largest exporters of food. Credit: Netflix / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Sir David Attenborough pictured in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. A portrait of Sir David Attenborough in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Credit: Conor McDonnell / WWF-UK

Visit: www.attenborough.film
Twitter: @DavidALifeFilm
Instagram @davidalifefilm

David Attenborough has started his own Instagram accont: @davidattenborough ... reportedly, this account was the fastest to reach one milllion followers in Instagram's history... It took just four hours according to the Guinness Book of Records!

This was his first post:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Wildlife-film.com (@wildlife_film) on

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
Sir David Attenborough walks through the Serengeti plains in Kenya while filming David
Attenborough: A
Life on Our Planet. Credit: WWF-UK / David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

About the Film-makers:

Sir David Attenborough (Narrator)

Sir David Attenborough’s broadcasting career spans over 60 years. It began in 1952 when he joined BBC Television as a trainee and then became a producer working in the studios of Alexandra Palace in north London, from which the world’s first television service was broadcast. His work there involved producing live studio programmes on a whole range of non-fiction subjects, from children’s programmes and cooking, religious programmes and political broadcasts, ballet and archaeological quizzes. In 1954 he launched the first of his famous Zoo Quest series. These took him each year to different parts of the world in search of animals - Sierra Leone (1954), Guyana (1955), Indonesia (1956), Papua New Guinea (1957), Argentina and Paraguay (1958) the Southwest Pacific (1959), Madagascar (1960), northern Australia (1962) and down the Zambezi from source to mouth (1964).

After 10 years of making such programmes, he resigned to take a post-graduate degree in social anthropology, but in 1965 he was invited to return to the staff of the BBC to take up the post of Network Controller of BBC2, the Corporation’s second network which was then less than a year old. After 4 years in which the network established itself and became the first in Europe to transmit in colour, he was put in overall charge of both the BBC’s television networks as Director of Programmes.

In 1973, Sir David resigned to become a programme maker once again. First came Eastwards with Attenborough, a series set in south east Asia, and then The Tribal Eye which examined sculpture, weaving, metal casting and other artistic activities in tribal societies around the world. He also at this time began narrating Wildlife On One, a series that continued for well over a hundred editions.

In 1979 he wrote and presented the first of his major comprehensive series, Life on Earth. This told the story of the evolution of animal life. With 13 fifty minute parts, it was then the most ambitious series ever produced by the BBC Natural History Unit (with producer/director Richard Brock). It was universally acclaimed by press and public, gained many awards and was shown round the world.

The 12-part series The Living Planet, surveying the natural world from an ecological point of view, proved a worthy successor to Life on Earth and in 1990 he completed the third of the Life trilogy which dealt with animal behaviour and was entitled The Trials of Life. In addition to these major series, he also presented several shorter ones: including a survey of humanity’s impact on the lands around the Mediterranean, The First Eden; a series about fossils, Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives: in 1993 Life in the Freezer about wildlife in the Antarctic.

He has made several series dealing comprehensively with particular sections of the natural world; The Private Life of Plants in 1995, The Life of Birds in 1998, The Life of Mammals in 2002, and a survey of terrestrial invertebrates with the title, Life in the Undergrowth, and Life in Cold Blood, which dealt with amphibians and reptiles. Each of these major series was accompanied by a book. He also narrated other major natural history series including Blue Planet, Planet Earth, The Frozen Planet, Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II.

Sir David continues to engage in narrating landmark natural history series including the Netflix original documentary series Our Planet, which is a collaboration between Silverback Films and WWF documenting the most important wildernesses that still remain and what must be done to preserve them in the future.

Sir David Attenborough was born in London in May 1926 and educated at Wyggeston Grammar School, Leicester, and Clare College, Cambridge where he took an honours degree in Natural Sciences. He did two years National Service in the Royal Navy and then spent some time on the editorial side of the University of London Press. He has served as trustee of the British Museum, the Science Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and as President of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation. Now a widower, he has a son who is an anthropologist and a daughter who is an educational consultant. His main leisure time interests are music, tribal art, contemporary ceramics and natural history.

Alastair Fothergill (Director & Executive Producer)

Alastair Fothergill is currently a director of Silverback Films Ltd and executive producer of the Netflix series Our Planet, BBC One series Perfect Planet and Disneynature film Penguin.

Alastair is behind five of the top 10 grossing natural history cinema films ever. Alastair joined the BBC Natural History Unit in 1983 and was appointed Head of the Unit in November 1992, aged 32.

Alastair’s collaborations with Sir David include The Trials of Life, Life in the Freezer, Blue Planet, Frozen Planet, Planet Earth and its companion feature film Earth released in cinemas.

In November 2012 Alastair left the BBC to set up his own production company Silverback Films, making The Hunt for BBC1 and cinema films for Disneynature. Alastair is a fellow of the Royal Television Society and of the Royal Geographic Society, who awarded him their gold medal in 2012, and a WWF Ambassador.

Keith Scholey (Director & Executive Producer)

Keith Scholey is currently a director of Silverback Films Ltd and Executive Producer of the Netflix series Our Planet, BBC One series Perfect Planet and director of the Disneynature film Dolphin Oasis.

Recent credits include the Discovery Channel series Wild Planet; North America and Deadly Islands and also the producer and director of the Disneynature cinema films African Cats and Bears. Born and raised in East Africa, Keith originally qualified as a Zoologist with both a degree and PhD from Bristol University. He began working with the BBC Natural History Unit as a researcher and subsequently became a producer making many films for the Natural World and Wildlife on One. In 1998 he was appointed the Head of the Natural History Unit and as Editor in Chief oversaw many series including David Attenborough’s Life of Birds, The Life of Mammals and Blue Planet. In 2002 he was appointed Controller of Specialist Factual and subsequently became Controller of Factual responsible for BBC Natural History, Science, History, Arts, Business and Religious in-house productions ranging from Springwatch to Pompeii. As Deputy Chief Creative Officer for Vision Productions he was responsible for the development and launch of The One Show. He is a WWF Ambassador.

Jonnie Hughes (Director & Producer)

Jonnie Hughes was a science lecturer and journalist before joining the BBC Natural History Unit in 2002 to make documentaries. In the last eighteen years, working at both the BBC and independent production companies, he has produced and directed science and natural history films for the BBC, Discovery, National Geographic and Netflix.

In 2009, Jonnie took a sabbatical from filmmaking to write a popular science book, On the Origin of Tepees, which explored the subject of cultural evolution. In 2012, he joined Silverback Films in Bristol, UK, to work as producer/director on the BAFTA award-winning BBC series The Hunt (2015) and then as Supervising Producer attached to Netflix’s Emmy award-winning Our Planet (2019). His collaboration with Sir David Attenborough on both these projects led to his engagement as producer / director on David Attenborough A Life on Our Planet. Jonnie is the co-author of David Attenborough’s upcoming book, also titled A Life On Our Planet, which will be released on 1st October this year.

Colin Butfield (Executive Producer)

Colin is WWF’s Executive Producer responsible for the Our Planet project - a multi-year global media project centred around an 8-part Netflix TV series. He also leads WWF-UK’s advocacy work on the intersection at UN level between climate, development and biodiversity. Colin is a member of WWF-UK’s Executive team.

Colin joined WWF-UK to lead their campaign on the European Chemicals legislation - REACH - before being promoted to Director of Campaigns where he oversaw many UK and international campaigns ranging from climate legislation, illegal logging, saving Virunga and marine protection. During this time, he produced several award-winning short films, managed WWF’s digital content output and led international political and business advocacy programmes.

Outside of WWF, Colin has worked on baseline biodiversity studies in Zambia and Borneo, has a business and economics degree and a master’s in business and sustainable development. Colin is a founder of The Climate Coalition, which comprises over 100 different organisations working on climate change in the UK as well as a previous trustee of Wildscreen. He has retrofitted his own home to reduce its CO2 emissions by over 60% making it one of the UK’s 250 ‘Superhomes’.

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

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