Now is a time in which many people are escaping virtually to some of the most wondrous corners of the globe – from the icy poles of the Antarctic to the tropical jungles of Costa Rica. It isn’t just about travel, however, but rather, about celebrating Nature’s spectacular flora and fauna. If you could watch animals at play all day and you love discovering amazing plant species, check out these top documentary picks.


1. Night on Earth (2020) – Netflix

A unique documentary that captures after-dark footage of animals and their nocturnal habits, through the use of thermal imaging and low-light sensitive cameras. The film opens up a whole new world that human beings were never privy too, all because when we sleep, the action begins for so many mysterious animals including scorpions and leopards.

2. Jane (2017) – Netflix

For those who love gorillas and believe in fighting for the rights of animals, few people are quite as heroic as Jane Goodall – one of most lauded primatologists of our time. Jane takes us back to her early trailblazing work in the 1960s when, as a young twentysomething, she began observing chimpanzees. Set to a rich orchestral score from legendary composer Philip Glass, the film offers an intimate look into how Goodall managed to challenge the male-dominated scientific thinking of her time.

3. Chasing Coral (2017) – Netflix

Coral reefs are dying across the globe on a massive scale. “Out of sight, out of mind” is one of the biggest problems for corals, whose importance and beauty can easily be forgotten because most of us aren’t lucky enough to encounter them every day. The filmmakers behind this documentary are fighting to raise awareness of the issue. This deeply moving work highlights the fact that corals nourish the ecosystem that feeds us. They are dying rapidly, yet we can all play a role in putting a stop to pollution, coral mining, overfishing and so many other practices that are not necessary for human life to thrive.

4. Our Planet (2019) – Netflix

From the makers of Planet Earth: Miniseries comes Our Planet – a documentary covering 50 different countries and a plethora of ecosystems, narrated by David Attenborough. Go directly to the ecosystem you are most interested in – Frozen Worlds, Jungles, Deserts and Grasslands, and Forests are all fascinating in their own way. The series also covers oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water.

5. Blackfish (2013) – Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

This is the story of a performing orca called Tilikum, who was involved in the deaths of three people. The film was made to highlight the intelligence of orcas and the consequences of keeping them in captivity. A very timely documentary regarding the use human beings have made of the world’s natural resources and animals; featuring interviews with trainers who describe their experience with captive marine animals.

6. Planet Earth: Miniseries (2006) – Discovery Channel/BBC

There are two versions of this classic miniseries: the Discovery Channel version (narrated by acclaimed actor Sigourney Weaver) and the BBC Version (narrated by quintessential naturalist, David Attenborough). Planet Earth took five years to make and was the most expensive documentary of its kind commissioned by the BBC. It was also the first to be filmed in high definition. Each episode takes us to one fascinating part of planet Earth, highlighting perils such as climate change.

The Artic with its fluffy white polar bears, the Himalayas with their golden eagles and the Azores with their 500-strong school of dolphins are just some of the places you can escape to for a few hours. In 2017, the BBC released a shorter sequel called Planet Earth II: Miniseries, which uncovers the mysteries of city animals as well.

7. Virunga (2014) – Netflix

This documentary centres on the Virunga National Park in the Congo, home to an endangered group of mountain gorillas. It reveals the care with which teams aim to protect the park against the militia that attempts to steal its resources. The territory was in the news recently, when around 12 rangers were killed by suspected members of a Rwandan rebel group. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site but it seems that it will need much more than title to protect it.

8. Encounters at the End of the World (2007) – Thinkfilm

Renowned director Werner Herzog narrates this film, taking us to the icy and mysterious world of Antarctica. The documentary focuses not only on the beauty of the infinitely white surroundings but also on the complexity of the human psyche amid such harsh yet compelling landscapes.


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