BAFTA – David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive
David Attenborough is a compelling character, and has been for the entirety of his extraordinary half-century career. He is knowledgeable, incisive, intelligent, inspirational, and has always pioneered technological developments in television. With this specially commissioned programme for Sky 3D he and his BAFTA-winning team make meticulous use of 3D, combining it with fantastic animation and a wealth of well-narrated information to make the creatures in London’s Natural History Museum come alive.
The concept is sillier than his other programmes have been as he tours the museum at night, describing the collections of fossils and bones contained within, then interacting with them as their animated forms go about their business around him. It is frivolous viewing, watching him react to a nip on the knee from a dodo, or feeding ferns to Dippy the diplodocus, but he plays the part well.
He also derives humour from some of the staple elements of nature documentaries: will an animal under attack from a predator live or die? In programmes documenting real life there is no choice, but when the writers and animators have control over the animals that they are bringing to life they can play with some of these tropes.
But, beyond the silliness, the programme is deeply informative and consistently interesting. Guided tours of museums are much more engaging than wandering around on one’s own, and Attenborough’s writing and delivery make him the perfect museum guide at tonight’s BAFTA event. The programme focuses on several creatures in the museum, some prominently on display and others existing only in very fragmentary form in store cupboards behind the scenes. The most interesting biological features of each animal – size, diet, age – are explained, along with some of the detective work done by palaeontologists to reach the conclusions they have. Tying it all together is the story of Richard Owen, the founder of the museum, and his quest to collect and decipher these artefacts.
In HD, in 3D (from the team behind Gravity) and on a large cinema screen the beauty of not only the museum’s Victorian design, but also of the minutely detailed renderings of the ancient beasts, is stunning.
David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive will be showing on Sky 3D on 12th January 2014 at 4pm.
Watch the trailer for David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive here: