Netflix documentaries that will widen your range of knowledge

Emma Bartlett, Arts and Culture Editor

Movies are quick and enjoyable, television shows are fun and take dedication, but sometimes a quick and informative documentary is just what someone needs. Netflix offers many documentaries spanning different themes. No matter which one you choose, you’re sure to be delighted. Here are a few to try this week: 

“Our Planet: Behind the Scenes”

This film covers the difficulties that go into recording wildlife for documentary films. Cameramen find themselves trudging through mud, tripping over croquet-sized jungle roots and waiting out bad weather all to capture a few minutes of valuable material. The documentary discusses how footage can be a hit or miss. 

For example, in Western Greenland, researchers waited three weeks for a gigantic ice sheet to crash into the ocean and raise submerged ice to the surface. In the last hour of their final day on site, the ice came crashing down. Meanwhile, a group of cameramen in Eastern Russia spent two winters in the forest waiting to capture adequate footage of the Siberian tiger. 

Overall, this hour-long film gives viewers a look into what a documentary cameraman’s job looks like. The audience experiences the excitement and frustration of getting footage, and for those who believe obtaining usable footage is easy, this film will make you think twice. 

“National Parks Adventure”

Take a tour around America with world famous rock climber Conrad Anker. This 50-minute film covers the various national parks and the history of Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to establish national parks for people’s enjoyment. 

The film is reflective of the indigenous groups who lived in these areas and uses contemporary examples to explain why people still love these places today. This film allows for a short escape into areas of the world you may not be familiar with. Since everyone is cooped up in their homes, this may be exactly what someone needs to destress. The documentary is relaxing and provides a lot of aerial footage of trees, mountains and geysers. 

“A Plastic Ocean”

This hour and a half film covers the sad truth of pollution in our oceans. From plastic bottles, to wheels, to netting and cosmetics, human trash is finding its way into the deepest parts of the sea and into animals’ stomachs. Scientists and researchers in the documentary analyze the different plastics animals mistake as food. The number of dead sea creatures and birds whose stomachs are bursting with plastic is only increasing and viewers witness researchers extracting hundreds of small, bite-size plastics from the bodies of animals. 

The film also delves into plastic’s negative effects on humans and how individuals should demand for safer plastics. Overall, the film is extremely insightful and will make you question every plastic item you’ve used. The repercussions from humans’ careless use of plastic are astounding and researchers comment that this all comes back to how as a culture, humans are ignorant of the other creatures who share this world with us. 

“Betty White: First Lady of Television”

Documentaries about the world are interesting, but so are ones about people! The backstory of Betty White is a great retelling of the woman that America loves. This 50-minute film talks about how White started her career and how her acting has inspired others. She is seen as a woman who can do it all when it comes to acting. The clips shown throughout the documentary display her diverse range of talent. The story of how White met her husband unfolds within the documentary and it aligns perfectly with White’s charming character. A wholesome documentary, this film will leave you smiling.