Our Planet, Netflix's latest docuseries produced in parternship with the filmmaking crew behind other notable Planet-affiliated shows, cuts straight to the chase: Earth is hurting, and it's only getting worse. Climate change is destabilizing our ecosystems and affecting the planet in more ways than we can even comprehend, and Our Planet doesn't mince words in its call for us to act now or lose it all forever.
The underlying tone is certainly dire, but in showing us in pixel-perfect HD exactly what's worth saving, there's still the familiar sense of awe in narrator Sir David Attenborough's voice (the same one soundtracking the Planet Earth series) as we visit remote locales like the desert oases where all kinds of species hang out and socialize, or zoom in on the small but mighty power of tropical ant colonies even as one of their own is infected with beautifully disturbing fungal spores. But the most affecting moment of the series doesn't focus on an animal at all. Coming in the finale of the first episode, titled "One Planet," we travel to Greenland to witness the terrifying power of a collapsing glacier, called a calving event in scientific parlance.
"We knew a glacier calving was something we wanted to film because of the incredible importance of those events in terms of telling the story of the threats that are facing the planet as a whole," veteran nature documentarian Adam Chapman said. And the ripple effects of the ice falling from the glacier are harrowing, even if they're not immediately apparent; we see the tsunami-lite waves, but we don't immediately witness the corresponding ocean-level rise that comes when ice falls into the sea. Like a finely tuned watch, every little cog in nature's systems matters.
Thrillist spoke with Chapman, who directed the episodes "One Planet" and "From Deserts to Grasslands" and spent four years working on Our Planet, to learn exactly how his crew was able to capture one of the most extraordinary and terrifying events in nature that's only going to happen more frequently as the planet warms.