The elephant is one of nature’s most amazing and majestic creatures. For eons elephants and their mammoth ancestors have roamed the planet. Sadly the number of elephants around the world has been dramatically impacted throughout the ages because of poaching and other human activity. From Africa to Asia elephants’ numbers over the past half century or so have been decimated. However in recent years efforts to protect elephants have proven at least somewhat fruitful in at least some regions of the world. One of those regions—Botswana—has the highest population of elephants in Africa thanks to efforts taken to protect them. Now thanks to PBS’ partnering with filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert audiences get to see the effects of those efforts in Nature: Soul of the Elephant. Released late last November this nearly hour-long episode of PBS’ hit wildlife series takes audiences along for a ride with the Jouberts as they follow a group of elephants in its journey along one of the country’s major rivers. The program itself lies at the core of the program. That is thanks in large part to the program’s overall content. There is quite a bit to say here so that will be discussed more extensively shortly. The program’s cinematography is just as pivotal to its enjoyment as its overall story. That will be discussed at more length a bit later. Last but hardly least of note in this program is its collective editing and pacing. While the elephants’ journey and their own gait may be slow, the pacing moves just fast enough to keep viewers engaged and moved. That is thanks at least in some part to the episode’s editing. It rounds out the program’s most important elements. Together with the previously noted elements, all three make Nature: Soul of the Elephant one of the best episodes of Nature that PBS has turned out in recent memory.
Nature: Soul of the Elephant is one of the best episodes of Nature that PBS has turned out in recent memory. It is yet more proof of why the network remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television. This is exhibited centrally through the episode’s main “story.” The story in question follows filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert as the couple joins a group of elephants on its migratory path along one of Botswana’s major rivers. Audiences will be amazed at the change in attitude toward the Jouberts by the elephants as the couple slowly paddles down the river alongside group. At first the elephants are anything but happy about the Jouberts being in their presence. They are even charged a number of times by bull elephants in the herd. Yet as the elephants’ journey continues they become increasingly welcoming of the couple, even allowing Dereck Joubert to get quite close to them at one point in order to record them. It really is an intriguing process to behold. That is because it is just one way in which the elephants display their high level of intelligence in this episode of Nature. Audiences also see something truly extraordinary in the elephants’ journey as they mourn for elephants that had died long ago. This is exhibited as they pass by the skeletal remains of different elephants. The elephants’ body language clearly displays a mourning behavior on the part of the elephants that pass by the remains. It is an incredible sight to behold. Yet again here audiences see in this episode of Nature a truly high level of intelligence and even emotional comprehension rarely seen in the animal kingdom. The reverence that the elephants display towards the remains of their own is just jaw dropping even for those that have perhaps seen such behavior before. Once again it exhibits just how little we as humans know about other animals, especially the gentle giants that elephants prove to be here. There are at least two more behaviors exhibited by the elephants in this program that will surprise audiences. They will be left for audiences to see for themselves when they order this episode of Nature. On a related note, many of the behavioral exhibitions displayed in this program are thanks in large part to the program’s cinematography. It is another important element that plays into the episode’s success.
The “story” at the center of Nature: Soul of the Elephant is a hugely important part of the program’s overall presentation. That is because of both the information shared throughout the course of its nearly hour-long run time, and the collective depth and impact of said information. They work together to make this episode of Nature one of the series’ best in recent memory. As important as the story proves to be to the program’s presentation it is just one important part of the episode’s whole. The cinematography is directly linked to the program’s information because the cinematography is the reason that audiences are able to capture some of the elephants’ eye-opening behaviors. In the same vein, there is other footage captured by those that came along with the Jouberts that are impressive in their own right. One of those moments comes as the couple is flying over the African plains to its destination. Their plane is filmed from above. In capturing the plane flying below, the beauty of the land and waters below is captured, too. It is a truly beautiful sight that must be seen in order to be fully appreciated. In regards to the footage captured by the Jouberts the elephants’ growing acceptance of the couple allows for some equally incredible footage. That footage includes that of the elephants as they mourn one of their own, long dead during their journey. The couple is able to get a camera right up with the skull of the elephant that captures the elephants’ reverence for the long-deceased animal. It is such a touching yet heartbreaking moment that is certain to move any viewer just because of how close audiences get. In another moment, the elephants are so comfortable with the couple that Dereck is able to hold his (obviously waterproof) camera at the waterline and capture the elephants as they make their way through one of the many bodies of water that they encounter on their journey. It is the kind of shot that has rarely been presented in any previous episode of Nature. And it is just one more of so many shots throughout the program that makes it such a moving and powerful presentation. There is so much more footage that could be discussed as examples of what makes the cinematography so important in this episode of Nature. Simply put, the cinematography displayed in this episode of Nature, while not entirely unlike that of other episodes of PBS’ wildlife series, does still stand tall among the extensive list of episodes that has come before because of its cinematography. It really tells the Jouberts’ story in a way that really immerses audiences into the presentation at a level that few other episodes do and have done. That being the case it shows exactly why the cinematography is just as important to Soul of the Elephant as the episode’s central “story.” It still is not the finishing touch to this standout episode of Nature. The episode’s combined editing and pacing round out its most important elements.
Both the “story” at the heart of Nature: Soul of the Elephant and its cinematography are important in their own right to the episode’s overall presentation. While both elements are equally important in their own right to the episode’s presentation, one would be remiss to ignore the program’s combined editing and pacing. Whether the final edit was done by the Jouberts or by someone else (or potentially by both parties) the end result is a presentation that expertly captures elephants’ journey and the respect that the Jouberts had for their subjects. What’s more it does just as much of an expert job of capturing the expansive journey that the elephants undertake. It also serves to really drive home the cinematography’s emotional impact. Keeping all of this in mind, everything is all edited so well together that while the elephants’ journey is a long one, it is one that feels like it flies right by but in the best possible manner. In other words thanks to the editing, the program’s pacing will keep audiences fully engaged and immersed from the beginning of the elephants’ journey to its end. The program’s pacing coupled with its deeply moving and insightful “story” and cinematography ensures this even more. In the end all three elements come together to present Nature: Soul of the Elephant as one of PBS’ best episodes of Nature in recent memory and one that audiences likely won’t forget after watching it.
Nature: Soul of the Elephant is one of the best episodes of PBS’ wildlife series to be turned out in recent memory. It is one that after watching it, audiences likely won’t forget anytime soon. That is thanks in large part to the “story” at the heart of the episode. The cinematography is directly linked in to the story as it actually helps tell the story and give the story real depth and emotion. The combined editing and pacing behind the presentation makes it whole. It ties the whole thing together and ensures that audiences will remained fully immersed and engaged in the elephants’ story from beginning to end. In watching it so intently audiences will agree that this program is indeed one of Nature’s best episodes in recent memory and an episode that they will not soon forget. It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=71368906&cp=&kw=soul+of+the+elephant&origkw=Soul+of+the+elephant&sr=1. More information on this and other episodes of Nature is available online now at:
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