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Review: 'One Life' a vivid journey

The BBC documentary takes an intimate look at the life cycles of animals around the world, with footage that's riveting and informative.

February 22, 2013|By Gary Goldstein
  • A Cheetah and cubs from the documentary "One Life."
A Cheetah and cubs from the documentary "One Life." (BBC )

Cut together from a reported 10,000 hours of footage from the BBC's natural history archives, the wildlife documentary "One Life" is a visually gorgeous, at times astonishing screen experience.

Co-writer/directors Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes have crafted a vivid and immersive look at an eye-popping variety of animals — and one unique plant — from essentially birth to rebirth. Along the way, this globe-hopping journey stops for intriguing glimpses of such key life chapters as maternal nurturing, the endless quest for food, battling nature's predators, mating rituals and creating the various species' next generations.

The intimacy and detail with which a host of technologically advanced photographers capture the featured creatures, from the familiar (seals, dolphins, gorillas, elephants) to the more obscure (ibexes, pebble toads, sengis), is hugely impressive — not to mention riveting and informative. Who knew the chameleon could be such a deadly force?

The movie also includes such so-called "filming firsts" as Capuchin monkeys cracking palm nuts (a fascinating, painstaking process) in super slow-motion, Komodo dragons hunting buffalo, and tracking time-lapse photography of the amazing Venus fly trap. Footage of three ravenous cheetahs bringing down a female ostrich is one of this family-friendly picture's few disturbing moments.

It's all effectively tied together by George Fenton's pleasing score, Daniel Craig's elegant narration and the film's gently proffered theme of human and animal commonality.

'One Life'

No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Playing: In general release

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