Welcome back to the Spool’s weekly interview podcast, More of a Comment, Really…, where editor-in-chief Clint Worthington talks to actors, filmmakers, composers and other figures from the realm of film and television.
Even before the pandemic, before we couldn’t leave our homes anymore, nature docs were my happy place. But luckily, the Sir David Attenborough Industrial Complex continues apace with BBC One’s A Perfect Planet, which just started airing in America on Discovery Channel’s new streaming service, Discovery+. This five-part series explores the planet on which we live, the natural forces that maintain our fragile ecosystems, and the life that lives on it: volcanoes, oceans, sunlight, and so on. And along the way, we catch up on dozens of little personal dramas from creatures trying to survive and contribute to the Earth’s majesty, from lizards trying to climb mountains in the middle of an avalanche to the struggles of undersea creatures to adapt to the pressures of the ocean.
If you’ve seen these kinds of shows, you know not just Attenborough’s reedy, authoritative narration, but the big, bombastic scores that tend to accompany it. But for composer Ilan Eshkeri, for whom Perfect Planet is his fourth round at scoring an Attenborough-narrated nature doc series, he wanted it to sound a bit different. And that he does; the bigness and sweep are still there, but tempered by more muted, atmospheric orchestrations and the introduction of pop elements like guitars and drums. And the title track, “A Perfect Planet,” makes wonderful use of several children’s choirs to illustrate the fragility and innocence of the Earth, and the generations we’ll be leaving the planet to after we’re gone — an even greater reminder of the need to take direct action on climate change.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Eshkeri, who’s scored everything from Stardust to Ghosts of Tsushima, to talk about his motivations behind the project, how his own environmentalism fuels his scoring, and more.