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» » Life on Earth The Compulsive Communicators (1979– )

Short summary

Tracing the evolution of the human species from African ape to the prodigious colonization of the entire earth and the impact upon the planet both now and in the future.

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  • comment
    • Author: Tat
    David Attenborough is nothing short of a national treasure. He may apparently dislike the term, but it is hard to not say that about such a great presenter who has contributed significantly to some of the best programmes (of the documentary genre and overall) the BBC has ever aired/produced.

    It is really hard picking favourites, let alone a definite favourite, among what Attenborough has done because he has done so many gems, it is the equivalent of trying to choose your favourite ice cream flavour or your favourite operatic role (for examples) and finding you can't pick. When it comes to talking about Attenborough's work, one cannot mention his all-time best best work without putting his first masterpiece 'Life on Earth' up there. It was a ground-breaking milestone for documentaries, television and anywhere, and to this day it is still an awe-inspiring work that is unlike anything one hadn't, and has, seen before. On the most part the BBC today can only dream of having something this amazing or influential, and under forty years on it's one of their greatest achievements.

    Like the previous episodes, one forgets watching "The Compulsive Communicators" that they are watching an episode of a documentary series and instead feels like they're watching a masterpiece of ground-breaking art with incredible diversity and variety. A lot is covered but it doesn't feel over-stuffed or jumpy and maintains non-stop engagement throughout.

    Visually, "The Compulsive Communicators", and the whole of 'Life on Earth' for that matter, must have left viewers in shock and awe at the beauty and uniqueness of the images and they have held up incredibly today. Perhaps not quite as polished or as refined as some of Attenborough's recent efforts, but as amazing his recent work looks they don't quite have 'Life on Earth's' originality, awe or haven't-seen-anything-like-it feel that sets it apart.

    "The Compulsive Communicators" is gorgeously filmed, done in a completely fluid and natural, sometimes intimate (making it easy to connect more with the humans), way and never looking static. There are some beautiful shots and editing that is never rough and always cohesive. The scenery is richly magical and appreciatively diverse.

    In terms of the music score, it is one of the best and most dynamic scores of any of Attenborough's documentaries, almost cinematic in places. The main theme is unforgettable and gives the immediate impression of "as soon as the theme plays one knows they're in for a treat."

    Again, like so many Attenborough nature/wildlife documentaries, "The Compulsive Communicators" fascinates, teaches, moves, entertains and transfixes. In terms of the facts there was a very good mix of the known ones and the unknown, some facts being familiar to us while going into detail about complicated subjects and making it easy to understand and be riveted. Evolution of life on Earth has never been more fascinating or engrossing since.

    Narration by Attenborough helps significantly. He clearly knows his stuff, is very clearly in awe of the subject, 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.

    Found myself really caring for what we're told. Like much of Attenborough/BBC's other work, "The Compulsive Communicators" doesn't feel like an episodic stringing of scenes, but instead like the best nature documentaries each feels like its own story and journey, with real, complex emotions and conflicts.

    Altogether, a brilliant way to end one of Attenborough's crowning achievements. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • Episode credited cast:
    David Attenborough David Attenborough - Himself - Presenter
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