Rating : 9/10
This is potentially my favourite of Attenborough’s series, in 2011 this six episode ‘mini-series’ was released, and it was brought to my attention in early 2012. I had seen so little of Madagascar then, if any. Those few years ago platforms like Instagram weren’t what they are now, or if they were i didn’t hop on that band-wagon soon enough, Getting to explore Madagascar with Davids mellifluous voice floating throughout it was pretty damn heavenly. It’s also one that he is literally in, not just narrative from a sounds studio after all of the footage has been shot. One of the things that makes this such an exciting and far-reaching series is that exactly 50 years before this series was released, a very young Attenborough went over to Madagascar with his BBC programme “Zoo Quest”. The film was in black and white and was primitive enough when it came to cinematography and style. As you slowly work through the episode your introduced to different places about the island and they then overlay the image of a 89 year old David standing in a spot, after having shown you the grainy footage of himself in that spot fifty years previous. There was a certain reverence, as there always is in anything that includes him but this surpassed even me, you have a visceral reaction. So this is a review of the mini series that BBC and our lord and saviour Attenborough have created. I may well later on do an episode by episode guide / analysis but for now, here’s a peek at the glory that you’ll experience if your throw this on. (and you should)
So we begin with a brief history about how the physical island of Madagascar and the surrounding continents were formed. Every aspect of this island and its characteristics and construction are touched upon in this show, every facet of the series is of the highest caliber. Fair warning…. when you watch this (as with a lot of Attenborough’s work) your wanderlust sky rockets, and the temptation to start planning your years travelling gets really high on your priorities list. You see things like this on your screen and cant help but want to quite your job, travel and get to spend yours days looking at sights like this.
Then we delve into some of the mammals that have made the island famous over the years, and one just happens to be involved in the introduction scene:
A pretty damn classy opening if you ask me. Lemurs are Madagascar’s most successful inhabitant and there are 80 different types of them scattered throughout the island. These are Sifaka’s, conditioned to leap from trunk to trunk, but where the space allows, they will actually leap, continually, with both legs. Adorable and talented, what more could we ask?
For anyone who watches anything Attenborough creates for the visuals and his soothing voice, this is another diamond. You can so easily get lost in the forests in this, and be near hypnotized by some of the tracking shots in this series :
We see our old friends popping around the corner here too, i enjoyed that several animals from previous shows that had only lightly been covered were gone into in a further depth than previously. Getting to learn about these foreign animals is pretty fascinating when it’s presented like this.
Something that’s made this series in particular stand out interest and intrigue-wise, for me. Is that there is such a wide variety of animals on this island that can be found nowhere else on earth. Because Madagascar got cut off from the large body of Africa for so long and had little to no contact or approaches from neighbouring continents nearly all of these mammals have existed here, and only here, for the measurable past. Thinking about the effect that simple tectonic action had on the construction of an island is an intriguing one..