“Summer” and “Autumn” complete the tetralogy on the earth’s revolution

Elephants in Zimbabwe. Image taken from the documentary “A Year on Earth”, by Sam Hume. PLIMSOLL PRODUCTIONS


We tend to forget it, but we revolve around the Sun at a speed of 107,000 km/h, dependent on the Earth’s revolution in 365 days. Nature cannot forget it, since this revolution, at the origin of the seasons, punctuates the life of every living being. The tetralogy A year on Earth reminds us with wonder.

After Winter et Springbroadcast in April and available on France.tv, Summer et Autumn, scheduled this Monday evening in succession, complete the series which has the uniqueness of merging animal sequences and scientific explanations. A welcome initiative in a PAF where popular science broadcasts are becoming rare. Particularly successful, this mixture of genres has the intelligence not to compromise on quality. The film teams traveled to around sixty sites in both hemispheres, meeting sometimes little-known species.

The movement of the Earth’s rain belt serves as a common thread for the storyline. So Summer begins in June, when it reaches its maximum density in the north – supporting image of the blue planet from space. In the Chinese province of Sichuan, this is reflected in a growth spurt of giant bamboos, much appreciated by some of the 2,000 giant pandas recorded in the world and which still live there. How can we resist the sight of these living and clumsy stuffed animals?

Impressive aerial view

Another touching scene in Alberta, Canada, where animals are preparing for winter. Among them, a pika, a distant cousin of the hare and the rabbit, which can make up to 200 comings and goings per day to store acorns in its burrow.

However, we should not believe that the series is cutesy. It is thus impressive when we discover, in an aerial view, the vast “annual migration” from Africa: some 2 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebras leave the Serengeti in Tanzania to reach Kenya. “Every year, tens of thousands of animals die”specifies Myrtille Bakouche in the narration.

Nature is harsh. A young zebra thus only has a one in two chance of surviving its first year; the same is true for the young penguins of Marion Island, in the Indian Ocean, or for the grizzly bear cubs of the Yukon, in Canada.

Read also | “Ice Kingdoms. Antarctica and the high summits”, on France 2, the animal documentary is happily reinventing itself

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In the same register, Autumn offers the most moving scene of the evening, showing, in night vision, a mother elephant who is slow to abandon her dead baby elephant to the lionesses. “Elephants are animals that feel grief”, says the voiceover. They need time to accept.

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Naturally, this final episode also brings magic, with images of a flock of monarchs, these butterflies which leave American Maine to reach Mexico at the end of a 4,000 kilometer flight. Just as teeming, Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is suddenly trampled by 14 million red crabs, which rush to the beach to spawn.

A month later, “in Zimbabwe, the Sun has pushed the tropical belt”. The arid plains receive water and the elephants drink. In Canada, the chipmunk settles in its burrow; on Christmas Island, baby crabs returned to the beach, by the billions. The circle is complete. “The annual revolution of the Earth around the Sun is the link that unites us all. »

A year on Earth, by Sam Hume (UK, 2022, 4 x 52 min). On france.tv.

Catherine Pacary

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