No, not the giant stadium extravaganza…
Here, I’m referring to the somewhat tamer “Walking with…” six-part television series, done in the style of David Attenborough — that is to say, the film presents dinosaurs as wildlife subjects being observed by an off-camera narrator (in this case, hushed commentary is provided by Kenneth Branagh).
I was pretty pleased when Jey told me that such a thing existed, as Attenborough’s nature documentaries are one of the most familiar and beloved exports of Britain. (According to Wikipedia, “[a]n opinion poll of 4,900 Britons conducted by Reader’s Digest in 2006 showed Attenborough to be the most trusted celebrity in Britain. In a list compiled by the magazine New Statesman in 2006, he was voted tenth in the list of “Heroes of our time”.)
Also according to Wikipedia, the whole “Walking with…” series “used computer-generated imagery and animatronics to recreate the life of the Mesozoic” and strove to keep the focus on the subject, so forewent the use of expert “talking heads”. My generation’s main exposure as children to dinosaurs came from Jurassic Park. So for me and Jey, it was quite a thrill to see the “Walking with…” treatment of dinos in the wild as subjects in their own right, without any human-focused theatrics.
We’ve only watched the first episode of “Walking with…”, but so far it’s a bit like “March of the Penguins” (or any of the several films Disney has been producing using “Planet Earth” footage). Parents struggle to survive. Babies get eaten. Other babies just barely escape.
I know that nature is red in tooth and claw, but it’s still hard for me to watch those parts. There’s something so lovely about birds and reptiles in eggs, isn’t there? Something lovely, but also keenly fragile. I quite clearly remember seeing, as a very young child, a documentary about turtles laying eggs in the sand, baby turtles hatching from the eggs, and their journey across a busy highway to the ocean. Even then, it was all about the life cycle and survival and the inherent hope in self-perpetuation.
So, I guess not much has changed, even since before recorded history.