The Planet of Life

2003, Nature  -  51 min Leave a Comment
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The Planet of Life is a scientific documentary that explores the characteristics necessary for life as well as characteristics of life itself. Appearances from professors with prestigious university affiliations, and use of relevant graphics throughout feel appropriate for the style of documentary, and the information is free of opinion or apparent bias.

However, at one point you might wonder whether or not the film's creators are trying to get audiences to arrive at a particular point, specifically when they suggest that the introduction of oxygen had been a "technical pollutant" that made earth an optimal place for the existing species (humans and animals). This feeling returns later in the film when the documentary's narrator suggests that we may consciously create a race of similar descendants in the future with mechanical integration capabilities.

As the film will show, the definition of life is a slippery concept to grasp, but what we can be sure of is that metabolism and genetics are both prerequisites for life. Information on the way things like bacteria and processes such as photosynthesis came to be and continue to be up to today will make you rethink those junior high school science facts that you take for granted, but that do remain relevant in each of our everyday lives.

New information on where life can be found and sustain itself is being discovered all the time, and what life is is a fragile concept, as stated earlier. Accepting that there are some questions that we must live with for the time being, the film explains concepts like the origin of complex organisms in a way that is both easy to understand and reiterate, but interesting nonetheless. Concepts like sexual reproduction, language, and other enduring but not exactly necessary functions of life are looked into as well.

The interconnectedness of all living organisms, presented as dependency in the film, is illustrated in a way that is straight forward and impossible to counter. You'll never once feel like a pseudo-intellectual for having appreciated any information you've either picked up for the first time, or have been presented with as a sort of refresher while viewing The Planet of Life.