The Year Earth Changed
Premiering on 16th April, ahead of Earth Day 2021, Tom Beard’s The Year Earth Changed is a one-hour documentary that reviews the lockdown year from a wildlife perspective. It features exclusive footage from around the world, narrated by David Attenborough, that reveals the surprising ways in which animals reacted to the sudden withdrawal of humans. The film highlights the enormous benefits that the Earth enjoyed during this time, sparking reflection on the damage mankind has caused and whether it can be remedied, or at least contained, looking forward.
The interruption of human activity had an immediate impact on the lives of countless living creatures, who quickly adapted to the increased freedom of movement and better quality air. Many species resumed long-forgotten behaviours from a time before their habitats were so forcefully intruded upon. The significant reduction in noise gave animals the chance to communicate more effectively, which is paramount to their survival, and the absence of crowds afforded them the opportunity to feed and breed undisturbed and with much higher rates of success.
There is a post-apocalyptic feel to the scenes, which show deer, penguins and even leopards exploring urban areas and roaming freely in spots that were hitherto inaccessible to them. The striking images provoke a mixed sense of joy at their regaining strength, and concern that it is most likely just a temporary respite. Humans have destabilised the natural world to an even larger extent than previously imagined, particularly in the past few decades, causing animals great distress and contributing to dwindling numbers in many cases.
The film hints at the need for long-term solutions to give other living beings a chance to breathe and to thrive. Considering that humans have every reason to be wholly invested in the wellbeing of Planet Earth, perhaps restricting their movement and activity at intervals, whenever possible, would be a beneficial compromise for everyone. A couple of instances are depicted where people had the chance to reconnect with nature, thanks to the drop in pollution and the fact that many of them worked from home, thus reminding the viewer that the benefits of the lockdown were not reserved exclusively for animals.
This is essential viewing for every citizen of the world. It is a reality check communicated with positive data and uplifting images, but its optimistic tone does not take away from the urgency of its message.
The Year Earth Changed is released on Apple TV+ on 16th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Year Earth Changed here: