As my family and I consider cutting the cable cord, we enjoyed viewing Kingdom of Plants 3D on an alternate streaming source. We have a significant stash of David Attenborough nature documentaries on our living room shelves. None surpass this 2012 production.
Three episodes are filmed mostly from the Royal Botanical Gardens in England. The filmmaker depicts plants as beautiful, competitive, and with an unending array of mechanisms for nutrition, cooperation with insects, survival in harsh conditions, and even predation on animals. Every tool of motion photography is used: speeding up, slowing down, catching ultraviolet blooms. Sir David’s ever-present narrative invites and informs. I’d find his enthusiasm for nature most persuasive, if I didn’t already share it.
Among the highlights: carnivorous plants, the diversity and strategies of orchids, the titan arum, and how pine trees send out the distress call to ladybugs to rid themselves of aphid pests.
To be sure, 3D filming doesn’t really impress me. When it comes to movies, plot, characterization, and attention to detail are more important. When it comes to science films, I appreciate intelligence, creativity, and respect for the subject matter.
When I picked up my first tv in the 90s, and one of my landlords offered “free” cable tv, I found a number of good programs on science on some cable networks. By the turn of the century, things had significantly dumbed down. In the attempt to sell documentaries, most of American tv settles for what catches attention. I find authentic science does well to attract, not sell. But I’m likely in the minority of Americans these days.
I have a long history of enjoying science tv. When I was a kid, my dad and I used to enjoy programming on PBS or under the National Geographic banner. I’m pleased the young miss and I can share a family tradition of sorts. Family connections aside, I can heartily endorse this series.