Bear Grylls calls National Geographic’s Hostile Planet a story that’s never been told showing life on the edges and how hard it really is. The six part series delves into the real stars, animals that have adapted to the cruelest evolutionary curveballs.
Grylls, who serves as executive producer, host, and narrator of the series, was joined on a panel during Television Critics Association spring presentation on Sunday by cinematographer and director Guillermo Navarro, producer Martha Holmes, executive producer Tom Hugh-Jones, and producer, director, and cinematographer Mateo Willis to discuss what audiences can expect when the series premieres on April 1 at 9/8c.
“What I think is incredible about Hostile Planet is that so many of these stories are just heartbreaking,” said Grylls. “It’s an emotional thing to watch. Growing up as a kid, I was glued to the television watching National Geographic shows about the planet. It was always such a spectacle, it was just so beautiful. Rather than, ‘No! Oh no’ and that’s what Hostile Planet is like.
Sometimes, things work out and it’s an amazing triumph. You’re just rooting for them encouraging them to go! But sometimes, it can be really heartbreaking and tragic. That is the nature and the reality of the world and of the natural history.
What’s incredible about this series is that we are showing everything, not just the beautiful stuff. We show how hard it is for some animals, working hard together as a family to survive.”
Academy Award-winner Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth) views the series through the eyes of a cinematographer. He hopes that he is able to bring a different perspective to this nature series that has never been done before.
“The point was to show that the stakes are very high,” said Navarro. “We were also trying to change the language. The story 50 years ago in traditional natural history films are a different type of story today. We wanted to change this sense that everything was led by a voiceover and the images were just illustrating the text.
Here, my participation had to do with how this has become a visual language and a visual narrative. The lens has to be in a place for you to be able to connect emotionally with the struggle that the species go through.”
Everything won’t be doom and gloom for viewers, as some animals survive to fight another day. But Hugh-Jones admits they’re searching for a different type of audience, mainly one that loves drama.
“We wanted to make a series that spoke to a new audience,” he explained. “We wanted to make something that was dramatic, but can also carry an importance message. So we worked with Guillermo and Bear as the host to give the series a bit more attitude.
In some ways, Hostile Planet is a dark canvas but what we hope is that those rays of hope when the animals do succeed that the light shines brighter.”