BBC’s One Life Unveils (and Anthropomorphizes) Nature’s Wonders


Less mushy than its Disney Nature counterparts but still driven by the same anthropomorphizing philosophy, One Life (the first film released under the new BBC Earth theatrical banner) is another gorgeously shot document of nature’s majesty, this one focusing on the life cycle—and interconnectedness—of all living creatures. From the snow monkeys of Japan to the cheetahs of Kenya to the humpback whales of the South Pacific, Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes’ documentary (narrated by Daniel Craig) captures wondrous sights, few as amazing as that of Argentina’s woodcutter ants, whose work severing and hauling grass stalks down into their subterranean hole is a visual splendor that suggests stop-motion animation. Beautiful slo-mo, up-close-and-personal cinematography abounds, as does an aggravating desire to turn its many subjects (and their plights to survive) into reflections of mankind, with the film bookended by portraits of parental sacrifice and support, and of various mating rituals. Far more interesting are snapshots of unique wildlife skill and ingenuity, such as that of Belize’s Jesus Christ lizard running across the surface of the water—and the amazing sight of Brazil’s capuchin monkeys using rocks as tools to crack open nuts will surely make any 2001 fan smile.