​Our Planet Film Crew Open Up About Heartbreaking Walrus Scene

Many of us were left absolutely heartbroken after watching a scene from Netflix's latest documentary series, Our Planet, in which we we saw a poor walrus plummeting to its death - all because of climate change.

But it turns out it wasn't just us that found the footage hard to watch, with a behind-the-scenes film revealing what went through the camera crew's minds as they captured it:

Viewers took to Twitter to say they found the clip from the Attenborough doc 'heartbreaking', having watched on as the walrus fell off an 80-metre cliff while trying to get back into the sea.

After centuries of evolution, walruses' bodies are designed to manoeuvre around the Arctic ice to get where they need to be. However, these days ice is often in short supply thanks to the effects of climate change, meaning they have to haul themselves onto dry land to rest or raise their young, resulting in the animals getting stuck in precarious positions.

The walruses often die either from falling themselves, or from being crushed by another tumbling animal.

Netflix has now released behind-the-scenes footage from the documentary, revealing what was going through the filmmakers' minds when they saw the walrus' demise unfold.

"It's the sad reality of climate change," says Sophie Lanfear, who produced and directed the episode, in the clip.

Sophie Lanfear. Credit: Netflix
Sophie Lanfear. Credit: Netflix

"It's just so heartbreaking. It's really hard to watch and witness this."

Lanfear then questions why the walruses are scaling such a height, asking: "Why are they going up there? Literally to the top of the rockiest part of the cliff."

The camera crew also clearly found the drama disturbing to watch, with cameraman Jamie McPherson saying in the footage: "There's probably two or three hundred dead walrus on the half-mile stretch of beach here."

Polar scientist Anatoly Kochnev, who was with the camera crew to film the segment, explained: "Earlier on when there was ice, the walruses did not need this place. They are meant to live on the ice, now they have lost this ice platform essential for their everyday life in the Chukchi sea."

He added that the ice in the area had simply 'just disappeared' over the last 34 years.

In an interview with the New York Times, producer Lanfear also referred to the walrus scenes as the hardest things she'd 'ever had to witness or film' in her entire career.

"I really wasn't prepared for the scale of death," she said.

"A small group of maybe six or seven would make it down safely, and we'd all celebrate. But the vast majority do not. They basically walk themselves off the cliff.

"The walruses are used to a soft landing. Their depth perception hasn't evolved to deal with a cliff situation, nor have they evolved to work out how to get back the way they came. So it's just tragic. It's absolutely heartbreaking."

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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