Researchers analysing recent BBC and Netflix nature documentaries found that although they increasingly mention threats to nature, visual depictions of these threats remain scarce, potentially misleading audiences on the state of the natural world.
The findings are discussed in a Perspective published in the British Ecological Society journal People and Nature
Researchers from Bangor University, University of Kent, Newcastle University and University of Oxford coded the scripts from the four most recent David Attenborough narrated series. They found the Netflix series Our Planet dedicated 15% of the script to environmental threats and conservation, far exceeding the BBC series Planet Earth II and Dynasties, with only Blue Planet II coming close to this figure.
The researchers also highlighted the uniqueness of Our Planet in weaving the topic of human impacts on nature throughout each episode rather than being the subject of a dedicated final episode, which was done in Blue Planet II.
Despite the more frequent mentions of threats to nature, the researchers noted how visually similar Our Planet was to the other series they analysed. It had few visual depictions of the threats and largely showed the natural world as pristine and separate from humans, something nature documentaries have often been criticised for in the past.
Professor Julia Jones, lead author, said: “One could argue that by using camera angles to avoid showing any sign of people, nature film makers are being disingenuous, and even actively misleading audiences. The viewer may be led to believe that things cannot be that bad for biodiversity as what they are seeing on the screen shows nature, for the most part, doing fine.
“The inextricable link between threats to the natural world and the high consumption of western lifestyles would be more difficult to ignore if the presence, or even dominance, of commercial agriculture, mining and transport infrastructure were more visible in the landscapes, reducing the space for the awe-inspiring wild spectacles shown.”
Nature documentaries have the potential to elicit behavioural change and increase support for conservation but to what extent is not well understood. “Previous studies have shown that documentaries can increase willingness amongst viewers to make personal lifestyle changes, increase support for conservation organisations, and generate positivity towards an issue, making policy change more likely. However, we still don’t understand the mechanisms by which these changes take place. Considerable research is needed to investigate how viewing nature, portrayed as threatened or pristine, in a documentary affects people in ways which might, ultimately, contribute to saving it.” Said Laura Thomas-Walters, co-author.
The researchers suggest collaboration between filmmakers and researchers could help us understand the impacts of these documentaries. Dr Diogo Vesrissimo, co-author, said: “there is limited evidence on the causal relationships between viewing a documentary and subsequent behaviour change. Nature documentary producers should work with researchers to better understand these positive and negative impacts”.
“Empirical data needs to be collected to examine whether showing anthropogenic impacts is actually more effective at spurring behaviour change amongst audiences.” Added Laura Thomas-Walters.
Read the full paper :
Jones JPG, Thomas?Walters L, Rust NA, Veríssimo D. Nature documentaries and saving nature: Reflections on the new Netflix series Our Planet. People Nat. 2019;00:1–6. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10052
The Latest on: Nature documentaries
via Google News
The Latest on: Nature documentaries
- Review: ‘The Elephant Queen’ documentary delivers drama and emotion on African savannaon October 17, 2019 at 11:11 am
Incredible images abound in Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s “The Elephant Queen,” which follows a herd of elephants led by a giant Athena. The nature documentary joins the matriarch of the title and ...
- Stream It Or Skip It: 'Ghosts Of Sugar Land' On Netflix, A Documentary Short About How A Young Muslim Became Radicalizedon October 17, 2019 at 8:00 am
The documentary’s subjects are Alex and Marcus Lewis ... And like Three Identical Strangers, the exploitative nature that comes with the very human fascination with other families’ deep, dark secrets ...
- Here's what goes into making the popular Pixar filmson October 16, 2019 at 12:54 pm
Since 1995, films like “Toy Story” have become a staple in homes around the world, but what goes into making one film is more than you could imagine. It’s not just art. Science and technology play a ...
- A new Mint exhibit uses light and technology to explore links between man and natureon October 16, 2019 at 8:05 am
nature and technology. Mint Museum curator Annie Carlano and Studio Drift founders Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta collaborated on the exhibition. The works to display include: “Amplitude,” “Coded ...
- “The Biggest Little Farm” leads Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards nomson October 15, 2019 at 10:29 pm
The Biggest Little Farm (pictured) secured seven nominations, including best documentary feature, John Chester for best director, best cinematography, best editing, best score, best narration and best ...
- Get 3 years access to CuriositySream's 2000+ immersive documentaries for 25% offon October 15, 2019 at 8:51 am
CuriosityStream is a premium streaming platform offering a wide variety of documentaries on nature, history, technology, society, and more. You’ll have access to over 2,000 immersive documentaries ...
- What's the Best 'Star Trek' Movie and Why Is It 'Galaxy Quest'? New Documentary Has Answerson October 15, 2019 at 4:10 am
And we're making a documentary about a movie about a TV show," she added about the meta nature of the documentary, which dives into a movie about actors in a "Star Trek"-esque television show. Cornet ...
- Box-Office Hits ‘Biggest Little Farm’ and ‘Apollo 11′ Top Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Nominationson October 14, 2019 at 5:02 pm
More from IndieWire With the most nominations in the field, John Chester’s “The Biggest Little Farm” was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best ...
- Wildlife expert to present films in Shepherdstownon October 14, 2019 at 3:30 pm
Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue. Thank you for Reading! We hope that you ...
- ‘Biggest Little Farm’, Peter Jackson, ‘Apollo 11′ Top Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Nominationson October 14, 2019 at 10:00 am
The Biggest Little Farm leads this year with seven nominations, including Best Documentary Feature, John Chester for Best Director and noms for Best Cinematography, Editing, Score, Narration and ...
via Bing News