Sacred Planet

It seems churlish to find fault with a film so well-intentioned, benevolently high-minded and flat-out beautiful as this polemical travelogue celebrating the fragile majesty of nature. But writer-director Jon Long's laudable intent — to encourage respect for the natural world and preservation of the environment — is swaddled in terms so trite and...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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It seems churlish to find fault with a film so well-intentioned, benevolently high-minded and flat-out beautiful as this polemical travelogue celebrating the fragile majesty of nature. But writer-director Jon Long's laudable intent — to encourage respect for the natural world and preservation of the environment — is swaddled in terms so trite and cliched that they're almost guaranteed to bring out the closet cynic in even the most sympathetic viewers. Long captures breathtaking footage of old-growth forests, red-rock canyons, eerily translucent glaciers, vast deserts, white-sand beaches, riotous jungle growth entangled with temple ruins and underwater life as alien as anything science-fiction filmmakers have ever imagined. He also photographs tribal people, especially children, living the kind of lives unlikely to exist in another generation or two. These stunning images are accompanied by the words of elders (voiced by actors) representing indigenous cultures, from Native Americans to Nigerian Bushmen, sharing the wisdom of forebears who taught them that man is just a small part of the larger universe and must cultivate a respectful and harmonious relationship with plants, animals, insects and the earth itself. The footage of magnificent beasts and awe-inspiring natural wonders is juxtaposed with KOYAANISQATSI-like time-lapse footage of cars whizzing through city streets and people swarming erratically through train stations like pachinko balls: frantic, disconnected and dehumanized. The message — slow-paced tribal life is good; fast-paced urban life is bad — would have been utterly clear if viewers had been trusted to draw the obvious inferences from the starkly contrasting images. But as spoon-fed by Long and co-writer-producer Karen Fernandez, it feels simplistic and a little condescending.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: G
  • Review: It seems churlish to find fault with a film so well-intentioned, benevolently high-minded and flat-out beautiful as this polemical travelogue celebrating the fragile majesty of nature. But writer-director Jon Long's laudable intent — to encourage resp… (more)

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