"It's easy for us to forget our connection to the natural world," Robert Redford intones late in Earth: One Amazing Day, a charming if simplistic documentary that works strictly in the feel-good mode. Watching a variety of animals across the world over the course of a single day, you might wonder just how much longer all these species and environments will last. Redford's narration is comforting and assured, and it's pleasant to soak in the tableaus, none of which feature people (until the final minutes). This is the type of lightly educational, aesthetically appealing, big-hearted nature film that makes for ideal family viewing, as pretty much everyone can appreciate the sight of pandas. The most striking moments are panoramas of animals en masse — a shot of the Arctic covered with hundreds of penguins and a later one of a cave filled with glowworms that look like something out of science fiction.
More explicit consideration of the issues affecting these environments would have given the documentary more depth, and at times it moves too quickly from one landscape to another — the "one amazing day" angle may be a tad ambitious for a documentary that runs around 90 minutes. The film works best as a collection of cleansing images to meditate on — it's a welcome respite from the awfulness of the developed world, though the dangers of climate change and extinction are glossed over by design. There may not be a political agenda here, but the sweeping on-screen landscapes, pristine as a screensaver, inevitably stir some guilt over how poorly our Earth has been treated.
Richard Dale, Peter WebberRobert RedfordFrank Cottrell BoyceBBC Earth Films