birding-aus "Living Edens" doco on ABC - some nitpicking

To: Birding-Aus Mail <>
Subject: birding-aus "Living Edens" doco on ABC - some nitpicking
From: "Lawrence E. Conole" <>
Date: Sun, 30 May 1999 21:58:11 +1000
I haven't seen much discussion of this series on the list, so I thought
I'd stir the possum a bit and see what results.

Some of the cinematography has been quite superb, but the narration and
some images or image series have really been a bit over the top.  I
guess with "Eden" in the title, a little sentimentality and
anthropomorphism might be expected.  The program has an inconsistent
stance when it comes to dealing with the role/place of humans as well.
It rightly points to the undesirable impact of some human activities,
but then either romanticises the human/nature relationship to the point
of saccharine sweetness, glosses over it in poetic monologues about
"untouched wilderness", or rather condescendingly relegates humanity to
being part of the fauna (sometimes all in the one episode!).

Last night's program on Borneo featured a couple of errors and missed
opportunities.  The map of Borneo shown on the screen was in fact only
the Indonesian part (Kalimantan), whereas the program largely
(entirely??) featured Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah).  The
Wrinkle-lipped Bats (Tadarida [Chaerophon] plicata) shown at roost in
Deer Cave were actually (and unmistakably) Leafnosed-bats (probably
Hipposideros diadema) - whereas the swarming aerial column of bats shown
later really were Wrinkle-lipped Bats.  A number of bird species shown
were either put into a generic basket ("hornbills" for example when a
couple of species were shown), or not commented on at all (eg. Asian
Fairy-Bluebird, [cf] Greater Green Leafbird) - would it cost more than a
few $0.01 to name these in the commentary and increase the interest
level a little?  .... and on that topic, why not show one of the real
Bornean endemic oddities - the Bornean Bristlehead!!!!!  Orang-utans are
undoubtedly cute, but rather overexposed in the nature doco world -
maybe the fleeting glance of a gibbon (White-handed or Lar?) was a lost
opportunity to introduce some balance.  The Prevost's Squirrel and
Brush-tailed Porcupine were crackers - more of that kind of thing please

As I recall a similar discussion on Attenborough's birds doco was neatly
polarised between the nitpickers and the stalwart supporters - I await
the deluge with interest.

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