Life After People
The premise for this History Channel documentary was promising – what would the planet be like after the demise of humanity. I was looking forward to an apocalyptic feast. Throwing off my Christian goggles and possible scenarios relating to any biblical assumptions about the future, I was ready to view an in-depth look on the negative effect human consumption and waste would have on the future of the earth.
I was bitterly disappointed. What I was treated to was a documentary that felt like a neutered, toothless dog. It was propped up by computer graphics, poor ones at that, and relied on viewer having no critical analysis whatsoever. This is not a documentary for people with a questioning mind. It poses no good questions and offers no deep answers. It failed to catch my attention to the point that I actually fell asleep.
The scenario it poses involves the mass disappearance of humanity all in the blink of an eye – they give no scenario where this may happen, so I was left trying to fill in the blank that the rest of the film was built on by conjuring up a mass rapture of all of humanity in my head. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the documentary was built on a scenario that could not possibly happen and they offered no explanation for.
Most of it just felt silly and cheap – it was truly a made for TV documentary. Laughable highlights included conjecture about what would happen to household dogs – first they would need to get out of the houses they are locked in… There was also the visit to Chernobyl, which has dramatically recovered from the nuclear catastrophe there. Chernobyl is used in the documentary to affirm the re-growth of nature after 20 years of no humans, except that Chernobyl was visibly behind the projected growth in the cheap graphics.
In its defence, it was kind of cool watching the cheap graphical corrosion of some of humanities engineering masterpieces, but that’s about where the fascination ended for me.
The possibilities it could have delved into were immense – asking the questions about what could lead to the demise of humanity and looking at how our abuse of nature would leave large scars. It could have explained eco-systems better and delved into how whole eco-systems have developed around the human impact on the earth. It scratches the surface of these, but it is up to the inquisitive and analytical mind to play these scenarios out as the documentary drones on to the next display of cheap graphics.
My advice, avoid it and don’t waste your time.
Reviewed by: Frank Ritchie
Rating: G – Suitable for general audiences.
Released on: April 2nd, 2009
Year of Original Release: 2008
Length (Minutes): 94
Media Format: DVD
Director: David de Vries