David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Oct 5, 2020

You'll not see a better or more valuable documentary this year.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Grade: A

Directors: Alastair Fothergill (Penguins), Jonathan Hughes, Keith Scholey

Cast: David Attenborough

Runtime: 1 h 23 m

By: John DeSando

“We need to ‘re-wild’ the world.” Richard Attenborough

Attenborough, a natural historian, has been chronicling the changes in our natural habitat for most of his 94 years, so his “A Life on Our Planet” documentary is a fitting capstone that summarizes his vision for sustainability as the answer to saving the planet. His narration is soothing, his demeanor avuncular, and his message simple: We can prolong a healthy world if we become a part of nature, not apart from it.

Some of the pleasant footage comes from the nine series of the BBC’s Life collection: Life on EarthThe Living PlanetThe Trials of LifeLife in the FreezerThe Private Life of PlantsThe Life of BirdsThe Life of MammalsLife in the Undergrowth, and Life in Cold Blood. His approach is quiet reasoning as he takes us from the teeming wilds of the early 20th century to the current dangers of overpopulation, excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the dramatically reduced “wild” earth left.

A short 83 minutes, A Life soothingly shows how we have encroached on nature, but it brings hope that we can save the planet by reasonable activity. Attenborough’s “mission statemen” is one of the best, most helpful, and most entertaining documentaries you will ever see.

You’ll wish he were your uncle. You’ll wish we would listen to him. You’ll rejoice that someone has found the answer to our survival. And you’ll be happy it’s not about the election and the pandemic, yet they are not far from his advice for survival.

On Netflix.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at