Hidden Kingdoms: Amazing Nature TV

Posted by: | Posted on: June 19, 2015

Hidden Kingdoms: Shrew vs. Monitor LizardAs outdoor nuts, many times we see TV as the greatest enemy of the outdoor lifestyle. However, there are some amazing shows out there that really drive home the importance of protecting and preserving our natural world…shows that inspire us to go exploring or see a little larger piece of this huge marble we live on.

“Hidden Kingdoms” is one of these shows. It is difficult to put into words how utterly jaw droppingly amazing this piece of television magic is. From the opening scene of the first episode, I was glued just a few feet from my flat panel screen…soaking in the colors, the movements, the crazy cinematography that had my brain doing somersaults in my head. I felt like every sense in my body was exploding with overstimulation! Yes. EVERY sense. The scenes are so real I felt I was there, just inches from the animals being filmed. I “felt” the dry heat of the African plains pounding down on me and I “smelled” the damp mustiness among the forests of Borneo.

The cinematography in this series is truly ground breaking. The goal of the series is to show the viewer the giant world from the point of view of a tiny creature. The stars of the series are an elephant shrew, a scorpion mouse, an eastern chipmunk, a tree shrew, a Japanese rhinoceros beetle, and a marmoset. This means that a good deal of the time the incredibly sophisticated cameras are mere inches off the ground and up close and personal with the wildlife.

The talented producers and cameramen/women customize their gear and develop filming techniques on the fly to accommodate their demanding four and six legged performers, and the results are amazing. Using super high speed cameras and custom macro lenses, they capture a world that has been completely foreign to us until now.

On top of this, they create scenes to tell a dramatic and action packed story with a soundtrack that can rival “Star Wars” or “Jaws” in its suspenseful impact. This is paired perfectly with such horrific scenes as a Godzilla-esque monitor lizard running down our helpless shrew and an enormous razor talloned owl dive bombing our beloved chipmunk.

On this note, I should mention that many of the scenes are staged and even blue-screened. This is no secret. In fact, each episode ends with behind the scenes explanations of the cameras, special rigs, stages, and special effects used to capture the shots and create the stories. This may seem like cheating to some of the purists out there who remember the bitter sting of the revelation that the 1980’s PBS hit, “Wild America,” staged many of its perilous wildlife scenes. However, I can tell you I’m a believer. “Hidden Kingdoms” is completely transparent in its use of creative story telling, and I can tell you that anyone that watches this show will forever alter their view of the little guys and the underdogs of the natural world.

This show is meant to inspire our curiosity and raise our understanding of a little known and largely overlooked world that is just out of sight and under foot. To find out more about “Hidden Kingdoms,” visit the BBC page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/hiddenkingdoms.

Check out “Hidden Kingdoms” today on Netflix at http://www.netflix.com/title/70305470.


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