Morgan Freeman’s wealthy, majestic voice has graced a lot of documentaries over time, about faith, Jewish refugees, even penguins. His subsequent one has a scope and topic that befit a person popularly generally known as the voice of God: your entire historical past of life on Earth.
“Life on Our Planet,” an eight-part sequence premiering Wednesday on Netflix, takes viewers via billions of years, starting on the daybreak of time. Beginning with single cells in a primordial soup and sweeping via the age of the dinosaurs and the event of human civilization, the sequence charts the rise and fall of numerous species. As Freeman narrates, the present depicts the “nice battles for survival and the dynasties that will take over the world.”
Produced by Silverback Movies in affiliation with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Tv, the present depends on visible results to conjure up lifelike prehistoric creatures, together with woolly mammoths, a four-winged dinosaur referred to as the Anchiornis, and naturally the Tyrannosaurus rex. Visible results make up 30 to 40 p.c of every episode; the rest consists of footage shot in 45 international locations together with Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Morocco and the UK.
Regardless of the present’s title, this planetary saga steadily dwells on loss of life. In scene after scene, predators stalk their prey: a flying reptile swoops down on an unsuspecting sea turtle, a crocodile eyes a wildebeest, and a squid pounces on a shrimp, the hunts charged with suspense by Freeman’s booming voice.
“The shrimp by no means noticed it coming,” he says, because the squid enjoys its meal.
Demise additionally involves complete species, with the present’s narrative punctuated by 5 mass extinctions that collectively kill off tens of millions of creatures. Every occasion destroys one group of animals and paves the best way for one more, progressing from invertebrates to dinosaurs and ultimately to mammals.
Freeman, an Academy Award winner, hopes viewers stick round lengthy sufficient to see the tip of the sequence, when the present depicts the ascendance of people — the one species able to bringing about its personal mass extinction.
“It was mentioned that God created the heavens and the earth and put man in management,” Freeman mentioned in an interview this month. “That’s an enormous mistake if God really did that, as a result of in only a few million years we’ve virtually created one other extinction-level occasion.”
In a telephone interview from his residence in Mississippi, Freeman spoke concerning the roots of his unmistakable vocal fashion, his admiration for David Attenborough and his fears about our planet’s future. Listed below are edited excerpts from the dialog.
How did you determine to affix this venture?
Properly, the planet itself and the historical past thereof pursuits me. I name myself a “planetist” as a result of I’m involved largely about what’s occurring on Earth.
When did you first begin becoming concerned?
Oh, I don’t know once I first did. It kind of creeps up on you, you realize, watching how issues are going. Everyone knows concerning the altering climates. That’s a human factor. No animals are inflicting it. We’re inflicting it. And it’s occurring; we will see it now.
I’m inquisitive about your routine whenever you’re narrating. What’s your course of?
There was a script. There was a studio microphone. A few of them require plenty of takes. As a result of for those who learn via a paragraph and also you slur a phrase or two, it’s a must to return and repair that. Notably on this present, there are plenty of these creatures which have names which can be kind of maddening, I suppose. I recorded in Cellular, Ala. I additionally dwell down on the Alabama coast, so if I get work whereas I’m down there I’ll go to a studio that I frequent in Cellular.
What number of hours would you spend every day within the studio?
If I bear in mind accurately, I used to be there for over a two-day interval. Perhaps two to 3 hours a day.
As you look again on earlier documentaries you’ve narrated, which stand out to you?
I did “March of the Penguins,” and that was superior. I actually realized fairly a bit about how penguins dwell and work together.
One of many issues that me about this sequence is that it goes to the start of time and recreates these creatures utilizing visible results.
Oh heavens sure. While you’re narrating, it’s really a studying course of in itself. So I discover these sorts of documentaries very attention-grabbing. A part of the enjoyment of doing it’s studying all of that. You simply soak up it and it goes down inside you someplace.
What do you’re feeling is totally different about narrating in comparison with appearing?
While you’re narrating the purpose is to attempt to to be clear and never converse in a monotone. I suppose it’s a trick or present or one thing. I appear to be fairly good at it. I’m an enormous fan of David Attenborough. He has that knack of getting info throughout.
You’re identified for a really distinctive voice. How did you develop that?
After I was in class on the Los Angeles Group School, I used to be taking theater arts lessons, which incorporates voice improvement. And I had an excellent teacher there. That was the start of it.
What does your day-to-day life seem like?
I rise up. Two to 3 occasions per week I am going to the health club, work out, stretch, play golf on daily basis, climate allowing. Life has a routine: espresso, puzzles and stuff with my girl, and taking part in golf within the afternoons.
What are you hoping folks take away from this present?
How tenacious life is. If we will get sufficient info out in time issues will most likely change, however not for lots of us. The planet itself is what’s alive. And we don’t should be right here.