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30 best nature documentaries of all time

  • #10. Nature's Most Amazing Events (2009)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.0
    - Votes: 2,834
    - Runtime: 294 min

    “Nature’s Most Amazing Events” turns the camera lens on some of the most fascinating wildlife on the planet, including polar bears, sharks, and enormous schools of sardines. Aerial photography and time-lapse imagery are the hallmarks of this six-hour collaboration between The Discovery Channel and the BBC. 

  • #9. Life in the Undergrowth (2005)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.1
    - Votes: 3,280
    - Runtime: 251 min

    Another David Attenborough vehicle, this 2005 BBC documentary exposes the secret lives of insects. Employing the latest technological advances in macrophotography, “Life in the Undergrowth” raised the bar for wildlife documentary filmmaking.

  • #8. The Life of Mammals (2002)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.1
    - Votes: 3,627
    - Runtime: 501 min

    A follow-up to BBC’s “The Life of Birds,” “The Life of Mammals” explores the origins and habits of arguably the planet’s most engaging and improvising inhabitants. Highlights include nonagenarian presenter David Attenborough startling an unsuspecting sloth.

  • #7. Human Planet (2011)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.1
    - Votes: 20,980
    - Runtime: 421 min

    “Human Planet,” another BBC/Discovery project, examines how people survive in some of the most brutal environments on the planet by building relationships with animals. Rocked by scandal in 2018, the documentary was pulled from Netflix amidst accusations of faked footage.

  • #6. Life (2009)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.1
    - Votes: 34,538
    - Runtime: 473 min

    A BBC/Discovery co-production, “Life” focuses on Charles Darwin’s “struggle for existence.”  Presenter David Attenborough narrated the original U.K. version of the film, but was replaced by Oprah Winfrey for the documentary’s U.S. release.

  • #5. The Hunt (2015)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.3
    - Votes: 3,170
    - Runtime: 305 min

    It’s “kill or be killed” in this high-stakes BBC series, which casts killer whales and polar bears in a sympathetic light. Narrated by David Attenborough, “The Hunt” employed novel filming techniques to get the perfect shot, including cameras suspended from elephants.

  • #4. Our Planet (2019)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.3
    - Votes: 14,373
    - Runtime: 403 min

    The new Netflix film “Our Planet” isn’t a BBC production, but it sure looks like one. Produced by the same team responsible for “Planet Earth” and featuring the venerable David Attenborough, the film goes where many earlier nature documentaries feared to tread, compelling audiences to accept their own role in the destruction of the environment.

  • #3. Blue Planet II (2017)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.3
    - Votes: 21,532
    - Runtime: 364 min

    This sequel to the 2001 BBC series “Blue Planet” takes a second look at the high seas with new technology built especially for the follow-up series. Presenter David Attenborough guides viewers through the mating practices of ocean dwellers and warns against the dangers of global warming.

  • #2. Planet Earth (2006)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.4
    - Votes: 150,506
    - Runtime: 538 min

    The BBC’s most expensive nature project, this remarkable 11-part series transported audiences to a panoply of natural habitats spread over 64 different countries. Actress Sigourney Weaver narrates the U.S. release, stepping in for icon of British natural history, David Attenborough. 

  • #1. Planet Earth II (2016)

    - IMDb user rating: 9.5
    - Votes: 76,141
    - Runtime: 298 min

    “Planet Earth II” treads the same terrain as its predecessor, the 2006 mega-documentary “Planet Earth.” All manner of creatures eat, hunt and mate, but a decade later they do so in Ultra-HD, which makes for even more riveting viewing.