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"One Life": Nature, Uninterrupted and in HD 

Wednesday, Feb 20 2013

Life may be nasty, brutish, and short, but it also looks fantastic when photographed in high definition for Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes's documentary One Life. Narrator Daniel Craig says there are "5 million different species" and "5 million different ways of staying alive," though One Life narrows its scope to life in about two dozen locations, including seals in Antarctica, silverback gorillas in Kenya, and even a Canadian octopus and a Venus Flytrap in North Carolina. Each has their own mini-arc, often about giving birth, evading predators, finding food, or, frequently, all three at the same time. Some of it is genuinely thrilling, such as a cliffside chase between a fox and an Ibex kid. Shot from a distance in long takes, there's a sense of nature being observed without interference, giving it an urgency which is lacking in a close-up chase scene between a shrew and a monitor lizard. They're very small animals, of course, necessitating getting up close and personal with the camera, but it's edited like an action movie, and doesn't have the same visceral impact as a long shot of cheetahs ambushing an ostrich. There's a lot of death in One Life, but it makes the ability to survive all the more remarkable.

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Sherilyn Connelly


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