Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet
Sir David Attenborough has been an ever-present figure on our screen for almost 70 years, appearing even more so in recent times as the climate emergency begins to gain more traction and media attention. The 95-year-old broadcaster, conservationist and natural historian is renowned for his ground-breaking work and televised series that present our natural world from a lens which many of us would otherwise never bear witness to. His latest documentary with Netflix, Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet, is no different, once again telling straight facts and no fiction in a desperate attempt to raise greater awareness.
This time, Attenborough is joined by Swedish scientist Johan Rockström and together they examine how Earth’s biodiversity has collapsed over the last few decades, placing heavier emphasis on the science used to find recent discoveries and dig deeper into unearthing the possible solutions to avert an impending crisis. Informing the viewer about how the planet has moved from the Anthropocene to the Holocene over thousands of years, our hosts teach us a valuable, albeit complicated, lesson in the nine scientific boundaries of our natural world; they explain how, in most cases, the human race has moved the Earth past its limitations and into a danger zone.
The main question addressed in the show is whether we at risk of destabilising the entire planet. If the past few years are anything to go by, the answer to the question would unequivocally be yes. The devastating forest fires in Australia, increasing floods in Western Europe and the vast deforestation in the Amazon rainforest are just a few of the examples projected in the documentary, and the terrifying, non-visible effects of these ecological catastrophes are strikingly illustrated digitally throughout. Interviews are shot down the barrel, addressing the viewer directly so that our eyes meet theirs. The question now really is are enough people listening, or is it simply just too late?
This lack of concern for the future of our home is portrayed and emphasised on numerous occasions throughout the series, with even the prospect of a “Mad Max future” suggested with the utmost seriousness. This is primarily a science documentary, not nature; this is felt in the substantial weight and complexity of the subject matter, although the extra bulk applied through the science is evidently intentional, with the piece taking a direct approach in order to really deliver the message with authority. For those involved in this project, enough is enough. It is now or never for the planet and the human race.
The distinct sense of urgency is becoming unparalleled with every new documentary, and Attenborough must be growing weary of continually spreading the same message again and again to no significant avail. The opportunity to produce these programmes with Netflix and the BBC provides a vast cinematic expansion that can only be a good thing for his cause, but in Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet the message goes beyond the unfailingly beautiful cinematography, this time stomping its foot down in fury, exclaiming now really is the last chance.
Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet is released on Netflix on 4th June 2021.
Watch a ten-minute preview of Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet here:
Watch the trailer for Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet here: