Avid viewers of the BBC’s slew of high-definition wildlife TV programmes will have already seen some of the extraordinary scenes in this new documentary. Created from more than 10,000 hours of BBC footage, ‘One Life’ runs like a greatest hits compilation of the corporation’s finest wildlife clips. Some overly earnest narrative during the intro and outro aside, Daniel Craig’s voiceover delivers just the right level of Bond-style drollness to offset some of the film’s more squeamish moments. But, being a family-friendly film, directors Gunton and Holmes have ensured that there’s an ample level of cuteness to soften the blow of distressing scenes like cheetahs taking down an ostrich or, in one particularly horrid sequence, a bank of toxic Komodo dragons nipping the ankle of a cow then patiently waiting for it to draw its last breath. They’ve also employed an easy-to-digest chapterised structure by which to illustrate the featured creatures’ various methods of survival, from parenting and social etiquette to predatory and flight behaviour.
Needless to say, the footage throughout is straight from the cherry picker and includes, in pristine detail, vivid close-ups of a chameleon snagging bugs, human-like snow monkeys of a certain hierarchy basking in a hot spring (no socialism here), a surefooted ibex giving a fox the slip on a rocky cliff face, and tufted capuchin monkeys demonstrating their astonishing talent for using tools. The ambient sound quality is equally remarkable: when a male silverback gorilla builds up to a defensive roar and starts beating his chest, it truly sends a shiver down the spine. A well structured montage of wall-to-wall splendor, ‘One Life’ is the culmination of years of patient filming that deserves to be seen in all its glory – on the big screen.