DisneyNature’s Earth opens on Earth Day, April 22 and will become not just any nature movie, but both a tribute to Disney’s history and a celebration of its future. Gorgeous, moving, unforgettable, Earth is the kind of movie event families haven’t been able to enjoy together for decades. Earth isn’t a nature documentary like March of the Penguins, but is instead a tribute to our blue planet and all of the creatures here.
Earth is made by the same team behind Planet Earth, Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield. It is the first in a new Disney brand that promises to deliver one nature film per year. Executive vice president and general manager of the company Jean-François Camilleri believes that nature offers up the best stories, “In a place like the Disney Studios, where storytelling is key, we are going to go and look for the stories in nature and bring them to the big screen. This was a vision of Walt Disney back in 1948, and this is the vision of Disneynature today,” he said in a press release.
One of the aims of the film was to portray a full picture of the planet “pole to pole.” It begins in the arctic winter 700 miles from the North Pole and then follows the sun south to the Antarctic. The “characters” are three animal families, polar bears, elephants, and humpback whales.
The polar bears, in particular, drive home the threat of global warming as the world watches and waits to see what tragedies await these glorious creatures. The filmmakers were the first to be allowed into the polar bear denning site in Kong Karls Land in Norway.
The images of the polar bear and her young are so breathtaking it’s hard to imagine that it’s not staged for the cameras. The filmmakers have proved their tenacity in getting just the right shots, sometimes waiting for weeks to get them, and the results are probably going to end up being among the best cinema has to offer all year long.
This excellence came with a price. Clearly, the filmmakers put themselves in danger in order to capture previously unwitnessed encounters. When it came to filming the elephants with the lions, the filmmakers were forced to use infrared. The lions weren’t nearly as threatening to them as the frightened female elephants who were frantically trying to flee. But patience won out in the end, as did miracles large and small.
The beauty captured here is beyond the cautionary tale that we must preserve our planet for future generations; the beauty here is more than just a realistic look at the indifference of nature. The beauty here is the contribution of man — because we feel ourselves so separate from nature it is important to remember that our artistry, our ability to interpret and create is itself a glory to behold. And one remains as dazzled by these brilliant lensmen and women as by the complex and animated subject matter.