At first glance, a 94-year-old English man and a 17-year-old Swedish girl do not seem to have much in common, but nothing could be further from the truth. Earlier this year both broadcaster David Attenborough and activist Greta Thunberg released documentaries. Since our news is awash with coverage of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and a sitting president that refuses to concede the 2020 American election, we want to take a few minutes of your day to make you aware of these two well-made and highly important documentaries.
David Attenborough’s filmography counts more than 100 movies and documentaries that he wrote, presented and/or narrated. His voice is unmistakably recognizable for many and intrinsically linked to iconic documentaries such as Life on Earth and Planet Earth. However, his last documentary, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet feels different. At the beginning of the movie he calls it his ‘wisdom statement and vision for the future’. He takes you on a journey through his career and the viewer can feel a more personal touch in his latest, and likely last documentary. The first half of the documentary is rather disheartening, as he sets out how humans created this climate crisis themselves over the years. The second half, however, is devoted to the hopeful message that we can still turn things around, but only if we act now. Among other things, he mentions how a plant-based diet would be a step in the right direction and even praises the Netherlands for its sustainable way of raising yields with less water, pesticides and carbon emissions.
I am Greta, a film directed by Nathan Grossman, follows the climate change activist Greta Thunberg. It is a highly intimate and fascinating source of insight into the life of a well-known and controversial figure. Although this movie does not provide the viewer with the same amount of information as the David Attenborough one, it does make you wonder why a 17-year-old girl has to be the one telling everyone, including the most powerful people in the world, that we must confront the unprecedented existential impact of climate change. She opens up about her Asperger syndrome and how she sees this as a blessing since it makes her view the world in stark terms. The movie really makes you view the world and the current climate change from her point of view. This is brilliantly done, and it will make you re-think all the empty promises you heard from politicians all around the world. Without giving too much away, you can look forward to a very awkward but painfully real conversation with the president of France, Macron.
The wisdom and calmness of David Attenborough and the stubbornness and endless passion of Greta Thunberg make these documentaries the perfect combination to make people aware of the climate crisis. It beautifully shows how multiple generations can share the same goals, despite coming from wildly different backgrounds. There might be some hope now Joe Biden is the president-elect and will most likely re-join the Paris Climate Accord, but we cannot wait for our politicians. We will have to act now. These two documentaries from two of the most influential figures on this subject are the perfect start. On top of that, they will give you the knowledge and enthusiasm to inspire people around you.
In the interview, the two meet each other for the first time (via Skype, as they did not want to create a bigger carbon footprint). It is very touching to see how Greta thanks David Attenborough, but even more touching is how this 94-year-old icon supports Greta and expresses gratitude for what she has done and achieved in the last two years.
Written by Danique van Dalen