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Earth in our magazines


Planet Earth
DIRECTOR: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield

Whales The first film in the Disneynature series, Earth tells the remarkable story of three animal families and their amazing journey across the planet we call home. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, who were the creative team behind the Emmy Award-winning mini-series Planet Earth, have made a movie that combines rare action, unimaginable scale and impossible locations, by capturing the most intimate moments of our planetís wildest and most elusive creations.

U.S. RELEASE: April 22 2009, Limited • Rated: G


There are so many endangered species in the world now, why pick these particular species?:
Mark LinfieldMARK LINFIELD: One of the storylines in the movie is the power of the sun and the journey the sun takes and the strength of the seasons. We wanted to choose animals that were affected by the seasons of the planet. The polar bear, living in the Arctic, is in the most seasonal environment on Earth, and much of the storyline is about how the mother polar bear has to battle with the naturally changing things in her environment. Similarly with the elephants, they had to undertake long, epic journeys through the desert, which is seasonal. And, the humpback whales travel from the Equator, all the way down to the south. The other thing about those animals is that they are all engaging, intelligent creatures that we felt people would connect with, and that was very important in telling the story.

How long did this take to make?:
MARK LINFIELD: Five years was the production period, of which three years were filming. There were 2,000 days in the field with over 40 different teams. With these true life adventures, there really isnít a script. The animals just donít do stuff to order. The way to crack it is immense effort, immense time and using everything that we can to stack the odds in our favor, using the best scientists, the best locations and just a lot of time and patience.

Which was the most dangerous situation you got into during filming?:
Alastair FothergillALASTAIR FOTHERGILL: The dangerous one was the lions and elephants with the sequence of the pride of 30 lions bringing down the elephant. What was really dangerous was that the sequence was filmed in infrared, in complete darkness, because if you used white light it would have disturbed the animals.

MARK LINFIELD: There were some other surprising ones as well. The great white sharks you would think are not dangerous because weíre in a boat and the great white sharks are leaping away. But, theyíre actually leaping quite close to the boat and, at that particular location, it has been known for a shark to leap out of the water, rather than innocently chasing a seal, and actually land in the boat, which is not recommended.

Do you have to be a certain type of person to be able to watch nature and not get involved, trying to help any of these animals?:
ALASTAIR FOTHERGILL: Itís a very interesting question that we do get asked quite a lot, and itís one that concerns us a great deal. What are you supposed to do? The male polar bear was starving, yes. Filming that was very painful to do, but what were we supposed to do, shoot the walrus? The first rule wildlife filmmakers have is to be true to nature. You donít interfere, you donít get involved. Obviously, Mark and I are passionate about the natural world, but we recognize that a cheetah is a predator, beautifully evolved. Yes, a cheetah kills Bambi, and thatís sad, but that cheetah has got its own cubs and I think people understand that, if you put it in context. But we recognize that these are family movies and weíre very careful to cut them so that you donít dwell on the blood and gore. People know whatís going to happen.

What did you learn from making this movie?:
Parental careMARK LINFIELD: The amazing tenacity and dedication, all of those animals have successfully pulled through a difficult year on earth and show incredible tenacity and drive and I guess thatís what we all need as well.

ALASTAIR FOTHERGILL: I think thatís true and one of the nice things about concentrating on mothers and their babies is that one of the things you think about the film is weíre preserving the planet for the next generation.

What would you like for the audience to take away from this film?:
ALASTAIR FOTHERGILL: More than anything else we want them to have a good time in the cinema. This isnít An Inconvenient Truth. Itís not trying to preach to people. Thereís a lot of bad news about the environment out there. But if you had all the money in the world and ten lifetimes you wouldnít see ten percent of what we can show you in this movie. We want people to come out uplifted.

Bear leap

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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