The oceans and its many wonders are something that has fascinated humanity from way before you and I were born. National Geographic’s ‘Secrets of the Whales‘ dives deep into waters all over our blue planet to let viewers experience whale culture and its many engrossing facets. Over the course of four episodes, narrated by Sigourney Weaver (Finding Dory), we’ll get to know a bit more about the way whales communicate and the detailed social structures of a handful of different species.
Filmed over three years in 24 locations, we learn that whales are far more complex and more like us than ever imagined. Award winning National Geographic-photographer Brian Skerry gets up close and personal with orcas, the apex predators of the water. They even invite him to share a tasty stingray, after he records them hunting in the crystal clear waters of New Zealand, before he moves on to other locations to follow different pods.
Secrets of the Whales isn’t just informative, but it captures the majestic creatures in a way I’ve never seen before. Often spectacular and transfixing, there’s also a harsh reality that becomes all too real when we see the effects of global warming and pollution caused by humans. These are tough scenes to witness, as these are scenarios that could have been avoided.
The remaining episodes focus on humpback whales, belugas, narwhals and sperm whales. There’s an educational sense of urgency that gets balanced out by Weaver’s soft narration, making the mini-series easy to binge. Executive producer James Cameron, who’s obsessed with everything that has to do with oceans, takes a seat at the end of each episode with some sort of behind-the-scenes commentary – and a bit of a shameless plug for his upcoming Avatar-sequel. His charming excitement is infectious enough to make you sit through the end credits, waiting for the next episode to start.
Disney+ has a great new nature documentary to add to their catalog. Not only does National Geographic stand for quality, the vision of one of their star photographers, Brian Skerry, is out of this world and at times gorgeously haunting. If that doesn’t lure you into the deep, the series many never-before-recorded moments might.
Disney+ original series Secrets of the Whales, from National Geographic, premieres Earth Day, April 22. The three-year project will also be featured in the new National Geographic book Secrets of the Whales, on sale April 6, and the May issue of National Geographic magazine, The Ocean Issue, available online on April 15.
Mini-Series Review – Secrets of the Whales
Reviewed online (screener provided by Disney+), April 18, 2021. Rating: TBC. Running time: 4 x 45 min.
PRODUCTION: A Disney+ release of a National Geographic, Red Rock Films production. Executive producers: James Cameron, Shannon Malone-deBenedictis, Maria Wilhelm, Pamela Caragol.
CREW: Directors/writers/cinematography: Brian Armstrong, Andy Mitchell. Music: Raphaelle Thibaut.
CAST: (narrator) Sigourney Weaver.