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Terry Pratchett Facing Extinction

Terry Pratchett: Facing Extinction

Wed Mar 27, 9-10pm, BBC2

By Phil Harrison
‘When you know you’re dying, how do you live your life?’. That’s the melancholy question at the heart of this sad, stirring film in which Terry Pratchett defies his Alzheimer’s to trek through the rainforests of Borneo in search of Kusasi, an orang-utan he encountered 18 years earlier. Kusasi may be dead or alive, but that’s beside the point – it’s important to Pratchett that he makes this one final communion with nature at its most profound.

But gloomily, it soon becomes apparent that Pratchett’s closure is only half the story. Since his previous visit, the rainforest has been decimated by the palm oil industry – and, given that the oilmen employ most of the locals, it’s one of those horribly intractable problems with no good outcome.

It does make for an extraordinarily touching film, however – the titular ‘extinction’ clearly has a double meaning, but Pratchett’s sturdiness and lack of self-pity keeps the film remarkably chipper. As Pratchett is well aware, we’re all going to die. The challenge is to live well for as long as we get the chance.

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