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World Environment Day: Four iconic documentaries to watch

From the deepest ocean to the frozen poles, Lounge picks four great documentaries to watch on World Environment Day

Blue Planet II can be watched on Amazon Prime Video
Blue Planet II can be watched on Amazon Prime Video


There are few voices in nature documentaries as iconic as Sir David Attenborough. In this sequel to the 2001 BBC series Blue Planet, he guides us through seven episodes that look at five unique ocean habitats, from coasts to coral reefs. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and the mysteries of the sea that the series shows us are nothing short of revelatory. There’s so little we know about 70% of our planet, and yet, as the episode on climate change and the ocean shows us, we are still jeopardizing the future of the wonderful creatures that live there. Watch on Amazon Prime.


Few films have done as much as much as Chasing Ice to publicize the looming disaster of climate change. Directed by Jeff Orlowski, who also directed 2017’s Chasing Coral, the film follows environmentalist James Balog as he travels to Greenland, Iceland and Alaska to collect data and time-lapse photographs for his initiative, the Extreme Ice Survey. The film’s crowning moment is the deeply disturbing footage of an ice floe the size of Manhattan calving from Greenland’s Ilulissat glacier. Watch on Netflix.


Planet Earth has to be one of the most iconic nature series ever made. Watching the BBC series at a time when climate change was just percolating into mainstream consciousness was something else. Using cutting-edge camera technology and filming techniques, it brings us close to a plethora of the planet’s environments, from seasonal forests to caves, and their unique biodiversity. My favourite episode is the one on mountains, which includes a gorgeously filmed snow leopard hunt in the Karakoram. Watch on Amazon Prime.


German auteur Werner Herzog takes us to deepest Antarctica and to McMurdo Station and beyond. The end of the world is occupied by eccentric people and scientists and Herzog’s moody, atmospheric narrative forces his subjects and us to consider how man too is a part of, and is shaped by, his environment. Human attempts to make sense of the world, are, to Herzog, an undefinable holy madness, much like a penguin that leaves its herd and walks off into the Antarctic interior, to certain death. Available on DVD.

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