French-Canadian director Jean Lemire’s documentary snapshot of life in the Arctic tundra over the course of a year is a beautiful videography, following the lives and livelihoods of the animals that live there. We see a polar bear hunting, giving birth and going about its daily routine, we see foxes and seals both above ground and under water – as well as under the snow.
The White Planet is an extraordinary documentary that examines the impact that global warming is having on the adorable, yet endangered denizens of the North Pole. Featuring astonishing cinematography often at breathtaking proximity, the film makes stars of the local wildlife who prove themselves to be as idiosyncratic, funny and charming as anything that the Ice Age films could come up with – seals with inflatable nostrils, giant walruses with unicorn-like horns (the narwhals) and half a million caribou who make up the world’s second largest yearly migration – but only if the weather report is promising enough.
The documentary does not preach about climate change or about how man has affected this remote and peaceful world – the message is explicit enough in the visual story played out on the screen. It says, “look how amazing and beautiful this all is,” which is enough to imply that we would be stupid not to want to protect it.
In today’s TV and Internet age, we are well used to nature films, but this one deserves special praise for its artistry. The music is quite haunting and some of the shots are pure beauty. Despite its name, the film is not all white – because the summer segment reveals colours as rich as our own green and pleasant land.