David Attenborough shows don’t often shy away from showing us the realities of life in the wild and how human consumption and global warming has affected the nature all around us. But Our Planet, the latest outing narrated by the broadcaster, left viewers traumatised with one particular segment involving a walrus.
Titled Frozen Worlds, the episode – which is currently available on Netflix – follows a colony of walruses that has been forced to take residence on a Russian cliffside due to the area’s increasing lack of ice. One devastating moment captures several walruses toppling to their deaths as they fall from the edge.
“In their desperation to [return to the sea], hundreds fall from heights they should never have scaled,” Attenborough explains over the tragic visuals.
Fans recently took to Twitter to share how “heartbreaking” they found it.
the clip of the walrus falling of the cliff is the saddest thing I’ve seen in my life, humans really suck #OurPlanet
— Lauren (@laurensavage132) April 10, 2019
One user wrote: “I don’t know what was worse…watching the heartbreaking Walrus scenes or watching the staff break down as they had to film it all. This is probably THE BEST series I’ve ever watched but the Walruses…oh my god someone help them!”
Another admitted that they “hadn’t slept” since they saw the scene, while someone else admitted to sobbing as they watched it all unfold.
One understood the need to offer up truths like this, no matter how difficult they are to watch, writing: “Our Planet is another stunning nature program from the BBC on Netflix. But that walrus scene….. Extremely tough to watch but necessary because things need to change.”
As it turns out, Netflix is all too aware that some scenes throughout the docu-series might be too hard for more sensitive viewers to witness. On 10 April, the streaming service tweeted a handy guide from its US account that lists snippets from the show that “animal lovers may want to skip.”
As you make your way through @OurPlanet, here are some moments animal lovers may want to skip:
One Planet: 16:04 – 16:43
Frozen World: 16:29 – 17:47, 32:50 – 33:45, 48:45 – 51:00
Fresh Water: 26:10 – 27:09
Deserts and Grasslands: 28:45-29:10
High Seas: 37:42-37:52
— Netflix US (@netflix) April 10, 2019
Talking about the footage, Our Planet producer Sophie Lanfear described it as one of the “hardest things [she’s] ever had to film in [her] career,” to The New York Times.
“What we think is going on is that the ones at the top can probably hear the ones in the water, and they can sense that there is water below. They teeter on the edge, and they just can’t work out how to get down there.”
“A small group of maybe six or seven would make it down safely, and we’d all celebrate. But the vast majority do not. They basically walk themselves off the cliff.”
Back in November, Attenborough addressed how irresponsible it could be for film crews to intervene when they see an animal in peril.
“All you can do there is watch tragedy,” he told i. “But tragedy is part of life and you have to show it. You can’t have sunshine throughout your life. To have done anything else would only have made matters worse and distort the truth.”
Interestingly, Frozen Worlds proved the most harrowing of the lot, as Netflix noted two moments some fans might want to avoid. Other episodes such as Fresh Water, Desert and Grasslands and High Seas featured one each.
All eight episodes of Our Planet are currently streaming on Netflix.