A common crane over Europe (Photo: A frame from John Downer’s ‘Earthflight’ as seen on PBS)
The quality of filming nature has witnessed astonishing leaps in recent years with camera technology advancing so rapidly. High definition cameras can be mounted on just about any creature, thereby giving us the kind of vantage points that were unthinkable until recently.
Of all the nature films I have watched, including the much celebrated television series ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Great Migrations’, nothing offers the kind of other dimensional experience that independent producer John Downer’s ‘Earthflight’ does. While ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Great Migrations’ are arguably the most important benchmark-setting works in nature filming, ‘Earthflight’ takes it several notches above. I think every country’s government should buy ‘Earthflight’ DVDs and distribute them free among children. These three series viewing should be made a joyous experience in every school around the world as part of growing up experience. I believe they have the potential to create better generations of people.
‘Earthflight’ has a differentiator that no other nature film offers. It taps into the universal wish among humans to be able to fly like a bird. If you want to know what it means to be inside flocks across the planet, ‘Earthflight’ is an absolute must watch. It offers a view of life which is bound to fundamentally alter the way you look at it. For those of you in America I unreservedly recommend every one of the 16 episodes still available online on the PBS site here. On that URL you will also find an interview with Downer.
Apart from the ceaselessly breathtaking quality of nature filming in ‘Earthflight’, what I cannot get enough of is how magnificent Earth appears from avian altitudes and vantage points. Flying thousands of miles during their migratory season, birds across the world have a picture of our planet that we could barely begin to imagine. On ‘Earthflight’ with its microlight aircraft flying precariously close to birds as well as high-def cameras mounted on condors, vultures and snow geese you no longer have to imagine that. You can see it for yourself. Once you have seen these majestic views you would agree that only the foolish and the unevolved among us would want to get mired in the kind of conflicts we rush into every day.