Can “life” keep up with the creeping cycle of desensitization? This trailer for the Discovery Channel’s new series Life offers an excellent example of how current cinematic time and space differs from unmediated experiences. But then again, editing is all a matter of framing and choice, and the Discovery Channel tends to gear itself towards a theme-park thrill ride aesthetic. A film like Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker would certainly offer a more meditative encounter, as do other more nuanced nature documentaries that can heighten awareness of that which we have become unaware. It is very difficult for us modern folk to enter into the animal’s “umwelt” (selfworld), so cinema has the potential to help in that process (barring, of course, that we actually re-learn how to communicate with animals).
I have a feeling, though, that the action movie style of this promo will be vastly different than the actual show, which is narrated by Oprah Winfrey. African American women have long been a trope for ancient Earth wisdom (the quintessential example would be Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan character on Star Trek: Next Generation). Moreover, the program’s marketing claims it’s made by the same folks who produced Planet Earth. It’s hard to imagine they would go in the direction of Roland Emmerich (of Day After Tomorrow and 2012 fame). It would be a truly strange mash-up to have Oprah’s reassuring voice overlaying high-intensity action sequences, or the narrator of the above trailer on top of a Tarkovsky clip.