Fast Five Review: Attenborough’s Life That Glows


2016 | G | Documentary, Nature
Reviewed by Jennifer

Sir David Attenborough explores the world of bio-luminescence, the often spectacular natural light produced by some creatures. Specially designed cameras reveal nature’s leading lights.

1) Did you like it?

Loved it, it’s fascinating!

2) Why?

Bioluminescent animals and plants pretty much have to be seen to be believed – they look like someone spilled the inside of a glow-stick on them! I’ve seen quite a few pictures and videos of glowing sea creatures (and was excited to see more here), but I had no idea about the variety of bioluminescent land animals. This documentary even shows some glowing fungi, which bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “magic mushrooms”. It’s also eye-opening to see how many ways animals use bioluminescence: finding a mate, hunting for food, repelling predators, and… well… just because!

I love how bioluminescent life has evolved specifically to thrive in a series of very particular ecological niches, and looks so beautiful and alien while doing it. This a magnificent example of convergent evolution: a process where very different creatures evolve similar features completely independently. Engaging and brimming with enthusiasm as usual, David Attenborough takes us from the air to the bottom of the ocean, and into the lab to explain the science of how animals generate their own light.

If you’re a cinematography geek, make sure to watch the extra feature on the new camera equipment and techniques they used to film the wildlife footage. It’s just as fascinating as the animals themselves.

3) “You would enjoy this documentary if…”

Like me, you’re fascinated by the amazing solutions that nature finds to seemingly insurmountable problems. As a sci-fi fan, I also love the fact that the deep ocean is like an alien world. We’ve explored so little of it, and watching sea creatures like jellyfish, octopuses and the even weirder and more wonderful species here is mind boggling in the best kind of way.

4) “This documentary made me think about…”

If we can’t understand the instincts, intelligence and communication methods of our underwater creatures, how can we ever hope to communicate with space aliens if we ever meet them?

5) Overall rating?