Awestruck and spellbound, the precious few closing hours of my last seven weekends have been spent with eyes pasted firmly on the television set. Blue Planet II is unsurpassable.
A masterpiece of cinematograph, built up through over 4000 dives, totalling a monstrous 250 days’ worth of solid footage, Blue Planet II is a fine-tuned submarine sensation. In its entirety, this series has been simply impeccable. The amalgamation of the world’s finest talents at the peak of their performance has been staggering. From my first viewing of the trailer, there was a realisation of what I would be witness to in the coming months. The electrifying collaboration of the enigmatic Radiohead and the irresistible Hans Zimmer evoked a fire of wonderment matched only by the images being thrust forth. I was convinced the bar had been set too high. I was wrong.
The first episode ventured onto our screens at the end of October. The stand out character of this episode was a wonderfully persistent tuskfish. Its remarkable behaviour demonstrated a level of intelligence once thought only to be present in higher apes. The tenacious little fish retrieved a lonesome cockle and in an ingenious move, it took the shellfish back to its “kitchen” and over the period of an hour, smashed its way into a gratifying meal. The series took a physical downturn as it ventured into the vast depths of the ocean. Images of abyssal plains, so vast and seemingly devoid of life shift immaculately to sea monsters that wouldn’t be out of place in a science fiction novel.
Coral reefs proved a stunning stage for a hypnotic cuttlefish’s light show and a turtle with a penchant for being pampered. The portrayal of the carnivorous bobbit worm was another example of the show’s excellence. The scripting, music, and production quality exceed near to anything that has graced our screens. Blockbuster moments were complimented by intrigue through storytelling within the series. Following each episode I would feel a different sense of enlightenment. Rubber ducks in episode four proved an unexpected demonstration of the interconnected nature of our seas.
Too many stories were told to recount, each with their own bewildering uniqueness
A BBC nature documentary series would be seriously lacking without the heart-warming moments that the public have come to love. If otters are what take your fancy, the rafts of them filmed in episode five, surely suffice. For me however, it was the noble puffin that really set my heart afloat. The gallant parents setting out on a quest to provide sustenance for their young pufflet was a warm hug of a sequence that truly endeared these intrepid and awkward little birds.
The series demonstrated a side to the ocean that shifted perception of its inhabitants. The vast array of bizarre behaviours has the public engrossed. Remarkably, the opening week’s viewing figures eclipsed that of Planet Earth II by over 1.75 million. Audiences were captured and transported to a new world. The ephemeral nature of life rippled throughout the series, none more so than in the final episode. The pain and suffering that we subjugate our fragile and only world to was all too evident. Scenes of cadaverous dolphin calves and rotting albatross chicks, bursting with manmade plastics made for tough viewing. Surely to even the most heartless, the images are a distressing call to arms. An eye-opening message that the human race needs to heed. The filming crew have said that the one constant in the four years of filming is that of plastic. It is time to take personal responsibility of our actions in day to day life.
Predictions of ice sheets disappearing into frosty seas and cities floating away seem to have fallen on deaf ears in past years. Still, only 48% of Americans believe that there is an anthropological role in climate change. Perhaps the devastating stories and shots of the acidification of coral will change attitudes. Perhaps the prospect of the tuskfish, that not so long ago we had grown to love, dying due to our own actions is a way to open eyes.
We are now at the point where awareness of the damage that we are causing has never been greater, yet the state of our planet seems only to increasingly diminish. Science is notoriously difficult to communicate to the public, but through Attenborough’s dulcet tones, we must hope that people will understand the gravity of the situation. Blue Planet II has particularly tried to do this. While avoiding becoming overly preachy, each episode seemed to face up to our ugly truth.
This extraordinary series is an astonishing insight to a world that we are so directly connected to. We have been gifted an image of the ocean that has never been seen before. Too many stories were told to recount, each with their own bewildering uniqueness. Above genre, above review, Blue Planet II is simply sensational. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait 14 years for the third instalment.
Image: Lisa Labinjoh