Reviews of Spy in the Wild (2017) and related work

Spy in the Wild (2017Moving picture)

Seen in 2017.

Review refers to the Swedish-language version on SVT.

Animatronics used in nature photography, purportedly to get closer to the animals without having people nearby altering their behaviour.

Dishonest. Full of stories told in the cutting room, the way nature documentaries got made 40 years earlier. Footage actually shot by the animatronics takes up less time than shots of the animatronics using manually operated cameras, for the obvious reason that the animatronics are mostly pointless: A gimmick. Only a few of the ideas are actually interesting, particularly the moving elephant dung stack that contains multiple deployable cameras, and the cameras in fish decoys for birds to pick up. Those two, like the Keartons’ ox of 1900, and Rikardsen’s camera inside a dead fish in “Et eventyr gjennom linsa” (2016), aren’t even animatronic.

The main point of interest here is not the unintentional tribute to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) but the workmanlike segments of actual nature documentary that don’t have anything to do with the gimmick, like the orangutans washing their hands with soap and eating the foam, supposedly without ever having seen a human do it in living memory. The lemurs using a millipede’s toxin as a recreational drug are also fun.

References here: “The Gathering Swarms” (2014), Animals with Cameras (2018), Earth from Space (2019), Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis (2020).

moving picture non-fiction nature series

“Spy in the Snow” (2018Moving picture, 58 minutes)

Seen in 2019.

More of the same but in winter landscapes, the Arctic and Antarctic.

The concept is unchanged and the same flaws prevail.

moving picture sequel non-fiction nature