Many of us take our home planet of Earth for granted, but this is a shame. Our planet, unique amongst all others, as far as we know for sure, is the only one that harbors and nurtures life (or death depending on your point of view).
But Earth is a truly fascinating object in and of its own right. From its crust to core, it is a highly complex interplay of natural forces that have, somehow, enabled life to rise and thrive for millions of years.
In the following article, we have handpicked seven ground-breaking documentaries that will help you understand and appreciate our truly special planet.
What are the best documentaries about Earth?
Although we've highlighted seven great documentaries about Earth below, there are literally thousands more out there. But, of course, like any question of this nature, personal taste will come into any decision on which of them are "the best."
That being said, here are some outstanding Earth documentaries that you'd be foolish to miss out on.
What are the best Earth documentaries for 2018?
2018 happened to have produced some great Earth-related documentaries. These include, but are not limited to:
- Dynasties - An inspiring documentary series that follows the lives of some of the world's most endangered species.
- Africa's Deadly Kingdoms - Documentary that uncovers the kill-or-be-killed ecosystems of the South African coastline.
But, there is a huge catalog of Earth documentaries that are great to watch whatever year it is.
1. Human Planet is brilliant
Human Planet, produced in 2011, offers a fantastic insight into mankind's place on the planet. This documentary series explores how humanity, uniquely amongst other organisms, has managed to adapt and thrive all across the globe.
Featuring awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping footage of different peoples around the world and was filmed in over 80 locations. Each episode features a different extreme location around the world from the arctic, mountains, oceans, jungles, grasslands, deserts, rivers and even the urban jungle.
In each episode, viewers are introduced to the people who live there and discover just how they managed to adapt to, and thrive in, each extreme location. It is, probably, one of the best documentaries on planet Earth and man's place on it.
2. Frozen Planet offers an unparalleled insight into life at the poles
Frozen Planet, a mini-series produced in 2011, focusses on life and the environment at both the Arctic and Antarctic poles. Depending on which version (US or UK) you watch, this great documentary is narrated by either David Attenborough or Alec Baldwin.
It was originally co-produced by the BBC and the Open University and is one of the best-loved documentaries about Earth on the market. Since then it has been distributed under license by the BBC in other countries like the Discovery Channel for North America, ZDF for Germany, Antena 3 for Spain and Skai TV for Greece.
The main theme of the documentary, as the name suggests, is to explore the effect of changes to the climate on these extreme environments. David Attenborough guides viewers around both poles and provides unparalleled insight into the ecosystems that inhabit the Earth's poles.
A must watch for any fan of David Attenborough and anyone interested in the Earth's polar regions.
3. Planet Earth is one of the best around
Planet Earth is a critically acclaimed 2006 British documentary series that was produced and filmed by the BBC's Natural History Unit. It took five years to complete from start to finish and was, at the time, the most expensive the BBC had ever produced.
The investment of time and money was certainly worth it, and viewers will wish that it never ends when they start watching it. Each of the 11 episodes focusses on a different biome/habitat on Earth and includes a short 10-minute behind-the-scenes "making of" featurette at the end of each episode.
It is truly one of the best documentaries about Earth ever produced.
4. The Blue Planet was award-winning
The Blue Planet, also produced and filmed by the BBC, first hit the airways in 2001. Narrated by the great David Attenborough, this is, probably, the first-ever comprehensive documentary series about the Natural history of our planet's oceans.
It took over five years to film and produce and involved filming in over 200 locations around the world.
The series runs for eight 50-minute episodes, each offering a unique and unparalleled view of life on Earth. Some of its underwater footage captured glimpses of creatures and animal behavior that had previously never been seen or caught on camera.
5. Home is where the heart is
Home is a 2009 French-produced documentary about planet Earth. Directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Home is a film entirely composed of aerial footage from around the globe.
The film had its world festival premiere at the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival in 2012. Upon release, the documentary received massive public acclaim and has, to date, over 32 million views on YouTube alone.
Its aim is to show viewers the massive diversity of life on Earth and highlight man's effect on it.
According to Arthus-Bertrand, the movie has no copyright:
"This film has [sic] no copyright. On the fifth of June, the environmental day, everyone can download the movie on [the] Internet. The film is given for free by the distributor to TV and theater to show it on June 5th."
6. Orbit: Earth's Extraordinary Journey, is just that
Orbit: Earth's Extraordinary Journey is a 2012 BBC documentary series that is presented by Kate Humble and Helen Czerski. Consisting of three 60-minute episodes, the documentary mini-series focussed on Earth's orbit around the Sun and its effects on ecosystems and climate around the world.
Each of the episodes focusses on one major component of Earth in space from its spin and orbit to the planet's tilt. The effects of these phenomena are explored in great detail in each episode from how it affects our lives, the ebb and flow of our oceans to the severity of our seasonal climates.
7. Earth: The Power of the Planet is fascinating
Yet another Earth-related documentary by the BBC, Earth: The Power of the Planet first aired in 2007. This five-part series, presented by Geologist Iain Stewart, documents some of the Earth's most powerful forces of nature.
These include the processes behind volcanoes and eruptions, the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans, to name but a few.
Iain, and the documentary series, also examine the various ways in which these processes shape our planet and influence life on it. This is a must watch for anyone interesting in Earth sciences and geology.