Monday, March 4, 2024

Dynasties ll is a wildlife extravaganza and exploration of emotional intelligence

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Simon Blakeney is the Series Producer and Mike Gunton is the Executive Producer. Narrated by Sir David Attenbrough. A BBC Studios Natural History Unit production for BBC and BBC America co-produced with bilibili.

Director: Felicity Lanchester, Simon Blakeney, Anna Place,
Mandi Stark, Lydia Baines
Cinematography: Ian Llewellyn, Mark MacEwen, Lianne Steenkamp, Neil Anderson, Jim Bishop, Sophie Darlington, Mike Holding, Philipp Klein, Soufiane Ouggougne, John Shier, Stuart Trowell, Tom Walker
Producer: Michael Gunton
Music Director: Benji Merrison, Will Slater
Production: BBC Studios
Rating: 2.5/5

Tanisha Saxena

Dynasties ll, unlike the conventional scripted documentaries, is emotionally rich and subtle. It has got dramatic arcs and impactful narration.

The five-part series, premiered on Sony BBC Earth, has breathtaking visuals that remind us of the compositions of Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II. Dynasties ll is a series which chronicles the families of animals in their habitat raising their young ones.The elements which supersedes the creation are the emotional chords that they rightly hit. Be it power dynamics, feuding rivals or the instinctual survival response—everything blends well in the story.

The opening episode, titled Meerkat, takes us to one of the harshest places on earth, an Island in Botswana in Africa. Young meerkat queen Maghogho is on a quest to establish her own dynasty. But to do so she must conquer the island by not just surviving the harsh climate, food scarcity, but also by raising her pups intelligently.

Another episode transports us to the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, where Rupestre (a solitary puma) struggles to raise her four cubs. The jaw dropping visuals of snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, and grasslands is also the humble abode of guanaco and the majestic Puma.

Angelina, an inexperienced matriarch, becomes the leader as the death of their experienced one shook them to the core. There are numerous challenges on her way to protect the dynasty. This series immerses the audience in every gentle moment, poignant events and nerve-wracking situations. Whether it’s the cheetah preparing her daughters to survive alone or a troupe of macaques trying to survive or a clan of hyenas fighting the enemies, all is about raising the dynasties successfully.

The dramatic arcs like family rivalries causing chaos or the need for alliances to care for the young ones. The audience has something to take away from each episode unfolding. The betrayal feels like a personal crisis, and that’s exactly where the series is able to create a powerful impact. Sir David Attenborough’s voice-over in the narration is yet again one of the plus points of the series. His soft, raspy, grandfatherly voice is irresistible.

There’s that smooth British accent and especially when you hear him pronounce Dynasties as “DIN-asties” or the word “averrrlarnche” which is actually avalanche. It is at times authoritative, and yet gentle. His voice can be called nature wonder, as he can turn a boring documentary into a fun and impressive one.

Talking about the storytelling, which is the most important component or core ingredient of the series, it is astonishing. The one-hour-long episodes capture the animals navigating their life in their respective habitat. When you see them toiling in harsh circumstances, you root for them. It is quite similar to the gamut of emotions one feels after watching both Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II. It is in the mundane life of these animals that we feel cathartic. For example, queen Maghogho trying to find food for her pups on the field in extreme climate conditions not only makes us move emotionally but also reflects the characteristics of the meerkat.

Dynasties ll is full of such moments, all the five animals have different characteristics which makes their experiences unique and thus the series remarkable. Similarly, Kali the cheetah, who has lost 12 of her cubs to the unforgiving grasslands is now raising her three daughters and fighting all the odds to feed them. Each of the characters grow at its own pace and gives us a thrilling experience of watching them. We hate the enemies and root for the animals struggling.

Coming to the cinematography of the series, it is evident from the massive success of the first installment of the franchise (using this term consciously) that the camera work is fantastic. Capturing moments like digging into the ground and search for food or fighting the enemies to protect the young ones are such strong shots which further gets cemented by the details like the sound of digging into the earth. These sounds work on a different level in the narration.

Wildlife photography is always breathtaking and Dynasties ll is no exception. It captures these animals in unbelievable detail. The nuanced and meticulous work of Ian Llewellyn, Mark MacEwen, Lianne Steenkamp, Neil Anderson, Jim Bishop, Sophie Darlington, Mike Holding, Philipp Klein, Soufiane Ouggougne and John Shier is commendable. They have shot the best footage which can independently narrate the entire story. Not to miss, the beautiful drone shots capturing the landscape.

Having said that, what we miss in this season is the insight from camera operators, naturalists, biologists and other wildlife experts. Unlike Dynasties l this time there’s no room for interaction with the experts on field who have spent days in preserving all the details. Documentaries work more effectively when these elements are added. Nonetheless, Dynasties ll is strong and impactful.

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