Sunday Night Movie: Attenborough (and not Attenborough) on the Stalk-Eyed Fly

A short clip from BBC’s “LIFE” series:

For a contrast in narrative style, here’s the American version:

8 thoughts on “Sunday Night Movie: Attenborough (and not Attenborough) on the Stalk-Eyed Fly”

  1. I never did understand why they would replace such a wonderful communicator like Attenborough with Oprah. It wouldn’t have been quite as bad if she just said the same words – but to dumb the words down to a low grade level really destroys the impact of the series and insults the audience. Why not try to bring up the level of the audience rather than dumb them down! I may just go and buy the BBC series to get the full benefit from this wonderful series.

  2. I’m sorry but it just really annoys me that she sounds like a kindergarten teacher talking to me. She says the word ‘pupa’ like it’s some vocabulary word her five-year-old class needs to know how to spell. It gets better in the middle when you can tell the narration is similar to Attenborough’s, but that thing at the end about the eyes bugging out was absolutely unnecessary, not to mention a tired cliche. The second clip was like sitting through one of my little brother’s PBS Kids shows. Okay, so perhaps I’m just a sucker for British accents, and I can understand if Discovery wanted a warm, familiar, American voice, but I still can’t stand being patronized like I’m in primary school.

  3. I have some of the same comments about the narration–the changes in wording and the tone really diminish the US version. But what struck me most was the music choice. It does more to infantilize the viewing experience than does Oprah Winfrey’s narration.

  4. I don’t know that I would distinguish the high quality version from the crap version in terms of nationality, Alex.

    Bad quality has a quality all it’s own, to paraphrase. “Quality” as a population curve can be couched in terms of a normal distribution, regardless of where it happens.

  5. I agree with the other commenters, the Oprah version is condescending and childish. David Attenborough never talks down to viewers in any of his shows. I’ve never watched an entire episode of any of the American versions, but I’ve seen enough clips like this one to know that no matter how much longer I have to wait for the original DVD to be released, I’d prefer that wait to watching the American dub on Discovery sooner. His shows are the main reason I bought an all-region DVD player, to get the originals. He has an interesting commentary on these voice-overs in his autobiography, where he discusses some of the earlier shows and how he declined to license them to US networks who wanted to replace his narration and instead went with PBS for less money. If anyone hasn’t read his book, ‘Life on Air’, I highly recommend it.

    1. A host of Attenborough Nature specials are available from BBCamericashop. They offer both the Discovery and BBC versions of ‘Life’.

      1. Unfortunately many of his earlier shows have never been released on DVD in the US like the excellent ‘Private Life of Plants’, and the only way to get them is from the UK. Which of course necessitates an all-region DVD player. The newer shows are easy to get the original versions in the US, but I’ve found them to be significantly less expensive on Amazon UK even with the cost of shipping. ‘Life in the Undergrowth’ for example is $24 on Amazon here, but only £5.50 (about $8.50) on Amazon UK.

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