Film Review: Love Thy Nature

This globetrotting doc about the absolute need for man to get more in touch with and sympathetic to Mother Nature has its undeniable value, but a much tougher, less sentimental visual sensibility would have been helpful.
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Are you ready for the Biological Revolution? As proposed by Sylvie Rokab’s documentary Love Thy Nature, this is a movement that is key to both the survival of our species, as well as the ever-more-fragile natural world. The persuasively authoritative voice of Liam Neeson lends credence to the theme of the vital need for mankind to get back in tune with nature, which, especially since the Industrial Revolution, we have not only been estranged from but actually ruthlessly battling.

Various strong points are made here by a number of scientific experts and philosophers, who expound over endless, lulling footage of the beauties of the flora and fauna which still somehow manage to exist on an overpopulated, over-technologized planet. The overall effect is, contrastingly, both absorbing and slightly narcoleptic, for while one understands the need to look at something while so many important statements are being made, it all tends to veer into a too-pretty Hallmark card blandness. (And, yes, some adorable meerkats get a chance to be in the spotlight with their capering antics.) Perhaps less would have been more here, focusing for longer lengths of time on specific kinds of individual animal behavior, or cannily paced time-lapse photography—maybe even judiciously chosen animation—to depict the evolution of, say, a mighty tree.

The founder of Biomimicry, which investigates the dynamics of positive interactions among animal and plant life, overly made-up scientist Dayna Baumeister (as if to say intellectuals can be hotties too) and overly coiffed cosmologist Brian Swimme (who seems to have acquired his baroque hand gestures from the campy pianist Lang Lang) have big words to say about the last 400 years of man’s history doing its best to destroy billions of years of creativity, or the contempt—championed early on by such as Descartes—for animals which humans have, believing them incapable of feeling. Particularly eye-opening is mention of the mere blip on the Earth’s overall timeline which human beings have occupied since their first appearance, along with the recent but devastating and irrevocable destruction wrought by them in such a short span. These authorities’ utterances are both revelatory and deeply disturbing, and at one point I literally closed my eyes to get the full import of their meaning, without all those busily distracting, often trifling visual reminders of what Louis Armstrong once huskily described—and I’m amazed it isn’t on the soundtrack—as “A Wonderful World.”  

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