Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On "Around the World in 80 Treasures"

I love watching documentaries. My favourite ones are narrated by Sir David Attenborough in his BBC series. His works are always very well researched and you can tell from watching, the amount of planning and effort that has gone into each single episode. It's something that I admire greatly.

Yesterday I watched a few episodes of the worst documentary series I've ever seen (named in title). It's also by the BBC so I feel somewhat fooled by its brand. Part of me feel that this documentary was made simply to fund the presenter's own wish to travel around the world and see these treasures.

If there is one thing that is at fault in the entire series, it's poor planning and time limitation. The whole series seemed so rushed. It boasts about taking only 5months to travel to 6 continents and looking at 80 great treasures of human creation, but due to the tight schedule (and probably tight budget), it seems that there was little planning besides making sure the presenter and the crew meeting the next flight to ensure they meet the 5 month deadline. If it is indeed treasures you seek, why would you be in such a hurry?

The crew arrived at Rio during a fog and for about 5mins or so, I simply watched the narrator infront of a great white background telling you that behind him (& the fog) is the statue of "Christ the Redeemer"...why have they decided to go during a fog?

During their visit to China the presenter is repeatedly rejected by chinese officials from filming the imperial palace by the BBC crew before the crowd of tourists. He vents his frustration several times but I take this into heart slightly given China is my country of birth...

The narrator's words suggest that the Chinese officials were to blame for the BBC not being able to film alone in the palace. This is where I see the western arrogance shining through. The negotiations to gain entrance into the palace obviously did not take place before they landed in China.

The expectation that a country would let them waltz into their greatest antique building simply because they come from the BBC is strange.

He also vents his frustration that during their visit, the imperial palace was under maintenance and some of the buildings was covered, again, some planning and research ahead of time would have informed the narrator that being such a big palace, it is almost under constant maintenance. When the restoration artists are done, it's time to start all over again from the other side.

In the end, it is their own fault for not being able to film the palace as they wished.

Another flaw in the series is in the narration. There is little consultation with locals about the meaning of certain architecture, the narrator simply walks up to one and gives the audience his interpretation of it. And he also has a wandering eye during the filming, not looking at the structure he's representing, but not looking at the camera either (is he reading a script being held up by a crew?) @_@

I will keep watching it to see what other treasures he has to present, but the rush, the poor planning, the useless venting and made up stories about an object/building are things that I dislike in this documentary.

Monday, August 10, 2009