Conquest Of The Skies

About half way through David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies close-up footage of a fragile bantam chick emerging from an egg leads into a quite lovely scene somewhat reminiscent of Jurassic Park in which Sir David explains how feathers found on a fossilized dinosaur gave rise to the surprisingly controversial conclusion that these ancient reptiles evolved into birds. It is the moment in this beautifully shot production that connects the very ancient world with the modern.

Flight in animals fascinates us; humans can swim, dive, leap, climb, creep and crawl yet flight (unless safely cocooned in a jet powered lump of metal or slung under the wings of some sort of motorized contraption) continues to evade us. Just ask those plucky souls who launch themselves off West Sussex piers each year in the International Birdman competition.

Conquest of the Skies takes us on a journey back in time and across the globe to tell the astonishing story of how animals took of from the ground and colonized the skies giving them the freedom to breed, fight off predators and find new sources of food.

This history of flight begins 320 million years ago and covers dazzling displays of insects emerging from underwater, the majesty of long-extinct winged reptiles some as big as an aeroplane, the splendour and agility of birds and the sonar guided precision of bats.

Sir David travels across the world from the fens of Cambridgeshire, to the lush forests of Ecuador, the upland meadows of Central Spain, over urban rooftops in Rome and to ancient fossil beds in China before embarking on a stunning climax in a ‘bat cave’ in Gomantong, Borneo where insects, birds and mammals converge in a battle for the night sky.

It is hard to believe that Sir David is 88 as you watch him dangling from a rope in the pitch black but throughout Conquest of the Skies his infectious enthusiasm and wonder for the natural world that has been with him since childhood shines through.

During the trip the octogenarian comes face to face with giant beetles, colourful butterflies, stealthy hunters and in a stunning piece of footage using the latest camera technology he speeds in a boat alongside whooper swans flying across a loch in Scotland. It could be CGI but it’s not. It’s better.

Interspersed with graphics that explain the science behind the aerodynamic abilities of these amazing creatures, the background scenery is gorgeous and the slow motion sequences will have you reaching for the rewind button as you begin to understand how hummingbirds are able to hover in mid-air as they feed on nectar-rich plants.

Discover which insect makes the longest migration and which is the fastest moving animal on earth. Find out why birds’ feathers are narrower on one side than the other and why certain birds enjoy a daily lie-in. And you may come away with a new found respect for the pesky fly whose remarkable acrobatic ability and an innate technology to rival that of fighter jets enabled it to become the global success story it is today.

Conquest of the Skies not only entertains and educates but also attempts to answer the age-old question of whether birds fly because they have wings or have wings because they fly.

Conquest of the Skies will be released on 9th March in standard def and hi def 3D and is available for pre-order: BUY NOW

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