By Marty Mulrooney
One Life is a major feature length production from BBC Earth Films, narrated by actor Daniel Craig and directed by Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes from the BBC Natural History Unit. More than four years in the making and put together from over 10,000 hours of incredible animal footage, the film has been created for a family audience and reveals the universal bonds that connect all living creatures on our planet.
Approximately 85 minutes in length, One Life packs an incredible amount of footage into its slender runtime. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace) narrates the film in a clear and uncomplicated manner that proves to be rather charming – there is much talk of family and comparisons are continually made between the animals being shown and the humans – you and I – watching. Describing an animal as a ‘single mother’ should sound ridiculous, but the delivery of such lines, combined with the incredible footage, is so assured that these comments serve only to raise a smile instead.
Make no doubt about it either, this footage is incredible. Whether watching bottlenose dolphins use a special technique to get fish to jump directly into their mouths, or a pack of cheetahs hunt down an ostrich, each scene is utterly captivating. One perilous cliff-face chase involving an ibex – a desert-dwelling goat – and a hunting fox is as thrilling and exciting as any scripted Hollywood chase. These moments of excitement contrast beautifully with the quieter moments of nature on display; Japanese macaques – snow monkeys – relaxing in thermal springs during the winter, or a Giant Pacific Octopus slowly starving to death as she guards her young.
There’s little to grumble about, although viewers of the BBC Television nature documentary series Life may find themselves experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu – a large amount of David Attenborough’s footage from that show has been reused here. It isn’t a deal breaker – although with the ten episode Life also available on DVD and Blu-ray for only a couple of quid more, it does make One Life feel a tad inadequate at times. I would suggest One Life to be best suited to viewers who have never seen the Life television show, as well as younger viewers who may not have ever shown an interest in nature before – Daniel Craig’s narration makes the material highly accessible and engaging for viewers of all ages.
Alternative Magazine Online’s review copy was provided on DVD – this is a two disk release – and it looks incredible. I can only imagine what the Blu-ray must look like – if you have the option of choosing between both formats, I would strongly suggest leaning towards the latter. Both versions feature exactly the same special features: Making of Featurette (18 mins), Interview Gallery (55 mins), Director’s Audio Commentary, Bonus Clips (6 mins), Bonus Shots (2 mins), Animal Sound Bites (7 mins), Trailer (2 mins). This is a beautifully shot film that showcases some of the most breathtaking moments of nature ever captured on film. It is a shame that much of the footage has already been seen before, but overall, One Life is still an engaging, life-affirming watch.
8 OUT OF 10