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Old September 5th, 2006, 04:26 PM   #151
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The place I see those two as being similar is the risk they took of their own lives plus the public's role in motivating them to risk their lives. Irwin didn't cause problems with endangered species that I could tell so I can't fault him for the way he dealt with animals. In fact he probably did much to help those species. It would be different if he was doing a program where fragile species were truly harmed. I don't think they were but of course I'm not an expert. The animals he truly had close contact with were generally not endangered.

Ripping up the ground around an endangered animal's den just to get video of that animal is a perfect example of going much too far. Wrestling with an animal that is far from being endnagered is another matter entirely.
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Old September 5th, 2006, 07:55 PM   #152
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if we add a drop of film theory and stir, then we get back to how treadwell and irwin were similar in terms of collapsing the conventional space between subject and object which seems characteristic of so many recent wildlife vids. to sum up, neither irwin nor treadwell relied on telephoto lenses, both handled very dangerous and potentially lethal wild animals, which humans have really no business touching, except, as someone pointed out, for conservation purposes, and both men attempted to educate through entertainment. i think that sums up quite a few similarities in methodology.

so if the methodology is similar--and i have yet to hear anyone take on this argument successfully to indicate otherwise, as i've put it forth ad nauseam!--then most of the arguments besides methodology are focused either on the perceived intent of the individual or on the cult of personality, either positive or negative, surrounding the individuals mentioned. those are valid, i suppose, but if we're a buncha videographers discussing videographers, shouldn't we be cutting through that stuff a bit?

even herzog acknowledges that treadwell was a talented videographer and serious craftsman....even though herzog thought he was a whack job for seeing anything in the eyes of the bear but cold impassivity. i wonder what sort of video herzog would make about steve irwin. don't get me wrong, i really enjoyed his show, but for wacky choices in handling nature's most poisonous and coldly impassive critters, he really had no equal. i watched a show of his outtakes once, and it was quite frightening and out of control, at times, and not at all the jolly display we were offered in the final cut of irwin's show, which was quite sanitized.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 02:57 AM   #153
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steve irwin

a very tragic outcome indeed. but in my opinion steve irwin's death had really nothing to do with his approach to wildlife. considering that he faced dangerous situations far more often than most of us can imagine whereas other people have fallen victim to fatal attacks by animals during their first encounter. in many cases to supposedly harmless domestic animals. it's simply part of the "your time's up feller" scheme. admittedly, many thrill seekers do go out of their way to find danger so they can bask in the glory of survival. steve irwin had a different agenda and far more noble. his aim was to promote nature and create awareness of it's dangers. may he rest in peace.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 11:24 AM   #154
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David Attenborough

I can think of one man who has done a lot more for me to break the 'barrier' between the screen and nature and hasn't resorted to stunts or risky behaviour to bring nature to the audience. That is David Attenborough. He's semi-retired now but I can't think of one other man who can evoke a sense of wonder, understanding, love and respect for nature and be able to communicate it the way that Attenborough does in every one of his series. Whether he is a host, producer, writer or just the narrator, he seems to communicate the best. Granted, he is the public face to very well-planned (and budgeted) productions but the moment he comes on the screen (or I hear his voice) I feel he is like the best biology teacher I ever had. When he is presenting something he evokes warmth and intelligence and .. more importantly, a wide-eyed wonder at whatever magic is about to be revealed to us over his shoulder.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 01:45 PM   #155
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You've hammered the nail on the head, Keith. I agree with every word you've written about David Attenborough.

He even survived the sound dubbing mafia who regularly usurp documentaries (with the help of producers who frequently feel threatened by a good script.)

No circus acts for David.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 02:22 PM   #156
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Amen to that, Keith. David Attenborough's productions are, in my opinion, the gold standard for nature documentaries.

The cinematography in much of the "Life of...." series often makes me feel unworthy to hold a camera.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 11:24 PM   #157
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Standing
Amen to that, Keith. David Attenborough's productions are, in my opinion, the gold standard for nature documentaries.

The cinematography in much of the "Life of...." series often makes me feel unworthy to hold a camera.
In Attenborough's Nature productions, he's often right out in the midst of the jungles and isn't at all like some armchair producers who let others do the legwork. When he encounters wildlife, he's so gentle and unobtrusive in his manner, that it often eats from his hand, instead of eating him. Younger and rambunctious wildlife videomakers would do well to study his patient style.
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Old September 7th, 2006, 12:16 AM   #158
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Originally Posted by Brendan Marnell
You've hammered the nail on the head, Keith. I agree with every word you've written about David Attenborough.

He even survived the sound dubbing mafia who regularly usurp documentaries (with the help of producers who frequently feel threatened by a good script.)

No circus acts for David.
I totally agree with all that Keith mentioned above, David Attenborough has a way with both young & old to spur their interest in Nature Conservation

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Old September 7th, 2006, 08:04 AM   #159
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David Attenbourough is fabulous!
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Old September 7th, 2006, 08:45 AM   #160
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Originally Posted by Brendan Marnell
I was relieved that sentimentality and nostalgia were largely excluded...
To me Meerkat Manor is all about sentimentality in a way which I find uncomfortable after growing up on more staid National Geographic type documentaries. For example, the final episode of season 1 left us with a classic 'cliff hanger' ending where we're not sure what happened to the meerkat attacked underground by the other clan. It's good television and perhaps appropriate for today's viewing audience, but it's too personalized for my taste.
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Old September 7th, 2006, 12:24 PM   #161
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There's a list of David Attenborough video output at ...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_...Go.x=5&Go.y=10

... and links to his non-video output too.

Like Jacques Cousteau, David became a naturalist but he was also a leader of public awareness at a time when TV and cameras and cameramen and general interest in nature coincided towards the production of excellence. The result: heightened awareness and a thirst for more ... not bad for mere humans. But real, for sure.
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Old September 7th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #162
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
To me Meerkat Manor is all about sentimentality in a way which I find uncomfortable after growing up on more staid National Geographic type documentaries. For example, the final episode of season 1 left us with a classic 'cliff hanger' ending where we're not sure what happened to the meerkat attacked underground by the other clan. It's good television and perhaps appropriate for today's viewing audience, but it's too personalized for my taste.
To an extent I agree with you Kevin. The cliff-hanger trick is as old as Greek tragedy, but I'm trying but failing so far to visualize how the complex interactions between some of the meerkats could have been explored and described coherently for me (Joe Soap) without using human language. Would you have preferred if those interactions were ignored or do you think the interactions were not just anthromorphised but actually concocted for telly? If 'twas all fiction dressed as apparent fact, then I'm a sucker. If you think the interactions were probably accurately observed then the question remains how else or how better could they have been described, except by excluding the odd moment of melodrama?
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Old September 7th, 2006, 03:03 PM   #163
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Would you have preferred if those interactions were ignored or do you think the interactions were not just anthromorphised but actually concocted for telly?...If you think the interactions were probably accurately observed then the question remains how else or how better could they have been described, except by excluding the odd moment of melodrama?
I would have preferred a less sensationalized presentation, because the way it is now just doesn't feel right. It does make for good television but I'm not sure that improves anyone's appeciation of Meerkats: it's just a soap opera with wild animals as the stars instead of people. Maybe it doesn't need to be as droll as National Geographic, but take one step back in that direction and I'd be happier with it.
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Old September 7th, 2006, 05:25 PM   #164
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Yes, I think I get your point.

Just script it "Mozart has been driven out of the tribe for breeding" and omit any addition of "One can't help feeling sorry for Mozart" or "She will be feeling isolated and is trying desperately to rejoin". I'd accept that. If that's what you mean then what you're implying is ... the script should stick to objective observation and leave out subjective follow through.

The last sentence was not my idea, it was yours and you have obliged me to find words for it. Thank you. Keeping script as dry as that is a challenge worth taking on because, as you say, the alternative is soap opera, which only trivialises and distracts from real issues. Chances are, if I may hazard a "follow through", that Mozart was not feeling sorry or isolated but experiencing cold and terror. Or have I gone too far?
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Old September 7th, 2006, 05:54 PM   #165
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Its interesting to watch Meerkat Manor with folks from different age groups and especially how intriged 7-11 years olds are with it. For a week I had to listen to "Oh poor Shakesphere" after the snake bite and when he recovered and later saved the babies you would have thought he was the greatest hero ever. The producers/writers love to place human qualities on animals because it works.

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