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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of delightful surprises, 26 Feb 2004
This review is from: The Early Years: "Zoo Quest for a Dragon", "Quest in Paradise", "Quest Under Capricorn": The Collection (BBC Radio Collection) (Audio Cassette)
Wildlife documentaries are so prolific now that it's hard to believe that, in the 1950's and 60's, no British television audience had ever seen footage of New Guinea’s Birds of Paradise, the Aboriginal artworks of Australia's Kakadu National Park, or the fabled Komodo Dragon (even the Indonesian authorities didn't know where Komodo Island was!) David Attenborough was, naturally, the man who brought these wonders to us and the audio tapes of those adventures are full of delights and surprises. First delight: the adventures themselves, frequently dangerous and undertaken in a manner that would be inconceivable (make that “unnecessary”) today. Here we have Attenborough trekking through native jungles, sailing into unknown waters, exploring indigenous cultures, tracking down exotic animals, wrangling with obstinate film equipment. There’s a real 'Boy's Own' quality to these tales and it’s fascinating to hear how the current guru of Natural History films literally forged the trail 50 years ago – quite a revelation for those who only think of him as the “grand old master”.
Second delight: the tales are related by Attenborough himself. Most of us are pretty familiar with that voice – authoritative, enthusiastic and silky smooth. Listening to these tapes now, it seems odd that he has never recorded before. Not only is it relaxing just to listen to (forget the tapes of whales and running water) but it is a revelation to hear him characterise each of the people in the stories. David Attenborough has frequently declared that he never had any desire to be an actor but listening to him here it is clear that the thespian talent so unmistakable in his brother Richard has not completely passed him by. Many a professional actor would envy his ability to capture the attitudes, vocal rhythms and dialects (even the devilishly difficult Australian accent) of each of his subjects without caricaturing or patronising them.
The third delight is that these narratives are historically and anthropologically informative. Here we have Bali, Java, New Guinea and the Northern Territory, all captured in a pristine and undeveloped condition just before the advent of globalisation, pollution, tourism and terrorism.
Undoubtedly an enjoyable and impressive series.
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