WASHINGTON – April 22 marks Earth Day and the debut of Disneynature's new movie “earth,” an intimate look at animal life from the icy Arctic,to the equatorial tropics and the depths of the ocean.
Disneynature,Disney's first new motion picture label in more than 60 years,screened the new movie,“earth,” Tuesday at Washington's E Street Cinema,followed by a question and answer session with the directors.
Narrated by James Earl Jones and directed by Alastair Fothergill,producer of the BBC nature documentary series,”Planet Earth,” and Mark Linfield,”earth” follows the lives of three animal families from the northernmost portion of the planet,to the equatorial tropics,then all the way south to Antarctica. The footage was taken over five years in 42 countries.
The story begins in the Arctic with a mother polar bear and her two cubs traveling to meet the cubs' father,who is hunting for food on the melting sea ice.
The movie gives a close-up look at the harsh,icy world that is home to polar bears and walruses. A little farther south,it shows how the changing seasons that transform the boreal forest in Canada and northern Europe,which contains one-third of the world's trees,or as many as all of the world's rainforests combined.
Audiences will see a mandarin duckling's first attempt at flight,explore tropical rainforests rich with biodiversity and travel to sub-Saharan Africa,where an elephant family migrates across the Kalahari Desert in search of water while battling sand storms and ravenous lion prides.
Finally,the story finds its way into the ocean to follow a mother humpback whale and her calf on their long journey to Antarctica for food.
“We wanted the movie to have a very distinct story,” Fothergill said.
The film was created along with “Planet Earth,” which aired in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel. Some segments appear in both,including the birds of paradise scene,which shows the exotic male bird of the rainforest of Papua New Guinea preparing to impress a potential mate by doing some housekeeping,then puffing out his black feathers and performing a dance.
Much of the footage was filmed from helicopters. That allowed the directors to follow their No. 1 rule,”never,ever disturb the animals,” Fothergill said.
“Mark and I both believe people come to the cinema to be entertained,to be amused,to escape,and we hoped that in ‘earth' we could take people and show them the wilderness and animals that they will probably never see,” he said. “It has a subtle environmental message,and a lot of people who have seen the movie have said they've come out inspired. … How can people be expected to care if they're not inspired?”
Though the film alludes to animal violence,such as a cheetah's attack on a young antelope,the directors chose to leave the gory details out.
“If any parents,at all,thought that they couldn't bring their children to see this because,you know,we put a little bit of blood in there,when actually the blood wasn't really adding anything to the story,then it would be a real shame,” Linfield said. “We hope that there's a lot in here that children will benefit from,particularly.”
Predator sequences,such as the great white shark attack and the hunting cheetah,were deliberately slowed down and accompanied by the singing of an Armenian woman.
“You now look at the cheetah and it's not just a predator killing Bambi,it's actually a beautiful animal at the very peak of its evolutionary design,” Fothergill said.
Fothergill said the film's overall optimism and hopeful ending was “very deliberate,” adding that “every Disney movie has to have a happy ending.”