Coming in June:  'David Attenborough: A Life on Earth'Coming in June:  'David Attenborough: A Life on Earth'

Coming in June: 'David Attenborough: A Life on Earth'

Editor’s Note: Starting this month, we are instituting a new format for our monthly reveal of new documentary releases from MagellanTV. Rather than highlighting several debuts with very short descriptions, a member of our editorial team will focus on a single documentary that especially appealed to them. We believe this new “editor’s choice” format will offer a more personal and detailed point of view, enriching the experience of viewers and readers alike. Here’s the first essay in the new series.


“The moment of crisis has come.  We can no longer prevaricate.” 

—Sir David Attenborough


American football has Tom Brady. Rock guitar has Jimi Hendrix. And in the genre of nature documentary filmmaking, Sir David Attenborough occupies a perch a step or two above his many esteemed colleagues. So, it is entirely appropriate that in this era of climate change, he has raised his voice in defense of the myriad living things with which we share this “third stone from the Sun.”


On June 20, MagellanTV will release David Attenborough: A Life on Earth, an hour-long documentary that provides an engaging account of Attenborough’s life and career. But what made it even more worthwhile for me was its focus on his increasingly urgent efforts to influence public debate and policy on how to confront the existential threat posed by human-induced disruption of global climate systems.



Attenborough’s Life on Earth

Sir David’s career as a nature documentarian and biologist has spanned more than seven decades since he began his first stint with the BBC in 1952. He has produced and narrated numerous award-winning films and series that have appeared not only on the BBC but on other networks and platforms as well. He has been awarded honorary degrees by dozens of colleges and universities, and, perhaps even more dear to him, his name has been attached to at least 20 species and genera of plants and animals alike.


Attenborough’s softly patrician voice is familiar literally to tens of millions – perhaps hundreds of millions – of people around the world who have viewed his documentaries. And, at the age of 98, he is intent upon using that voice, and the authority it conveys, to effectively impact efforts to save Earth as a home for humanity and our fellow creatures. He may sound like a diplomat in an English costume drama, but he minces no words when it comes to the most alarming crisis of our time.

Sitana attenboroughii, a species of fan-throated lizard (Credit: David Raju, via Wikipedia)


The Threat Is Imminent

“Nature has been there for us when we needed it the most,” Attenborough says. “Yet we have allowed our natural world and climate to reach [the] breaking point. . . . As the climate emergency intensifies, the threat to life on Earth becomes ever greater.” While clearly allying himself to those who believe we are in the midst of our planet’s sixth mass extinction event, he doesn’t succumb to despair, for that doesn’t seem to be a part of his personality. Instead, he says “we have the choice of a better and wilder future, a future where wildlife thrives alongside people, a future where nature helps us in the fight against climate change. . . . The time is now to create a wilder future.” 


Looking back on his career, David Attenborough sees that the whole point has been to tell the story of the many species he has featured in his groundbreaking programs – a story he believes we must not allow to end. I think it is fitting, then, that this thought-provoking documentary about his life on Earth is a story very well told.



Arthur M. Marx is Lead Editor at MagellanTV. He was formerly a senior writer/editor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Sarasota, Florida.


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