Disney+ celebrates Earth Day with a trio of new offerings

  • Alex Honnold climbs up a 1,000-foot sheer cliff of a tepui in "Explorer: The Last Tepui," which begins streaming Friday on Disney+.

    Alex Honnold climbs up a 1,000-foot sheer cliff of a tepui in "Explorer: The Last Tepui," which begins streaming Friday on Disney+. Courtesy of Disney+

  • "The Biggest Little Farm: The Return" catches up with Molly and John Chester, who run a farm in California where they grow food in harmony with nature.

    "The Biggest Little Farm: The Return" catches up with Molly and John Chester, who run a farm in California where they grow food in harmony with nature. Courtesy of Disney+

 
By George Dickie
Gracenote
Posted4/21/2022 6:00 AM

Friday, April 22, marks the 53rd Earth Day, and for the occasion Disney+ offers three new films and documentaries that celebrate the splendor of the environment.

Probably the most noteworthy is National Geographic's "Explorer: The Last Tepui," in which Alex Honnold -- best known for his ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in the Academy Award-winning 2018 documentary "Free Solo" -- goes to the Amazon rainforest of Guyana for his latest effort, a 1,000-foot climb up the sheer cliff of a tepui, or a tabletop mountain.

 

For this, Honnold, fellow climber Mark Synnott and biologist Bruce Means had to trek across miles of treacherous jungle and wade through what director Taylor Rees calls "chocolate pudding" just to get to the remote mountain so Means can complete his life's work of searching the cliff's wall for undiscovered animal species.

In "Explorer: The Last Tepui," biologist Bruce Means is looking for new species of frogs that inhabit the region of tepuis in the Amazon of Western Guyana.
In "Explorer: The Last Tepui," biologist Bruce Means is looking for new species of frogs that inhabit the region of tepuis in the Amazon of Western Guyana. - Courtesy of National Geographic

This latest ascent was still about the thrill and the challenge of the climb for Honnold, though he admits there was a side benefit to it as well.

"I was on the expedition because I wanted to climb tepuis that hadn't been climbed," Honnold explains. "But I'd say it's a huge bonus when we can do something that's actually useful for the world as well. And I think the opportunity to take Bruce Means, the biologist, into this area that he otherwise would have great difficulty accessing was just a tremendous bonus. Personally, I'm still driven by the climbing, but it's definitely a big bonus to do something useful."

"The Biggest Little Farm: The Return" catches up with John Chester and his wife, Molly, who run a farm in California where they grow food in harmony with nature.
"The Biggest Little Farm: The Return" catches up with John Chester and his wife, Molly, who run a farm in California where they grow food in harmony with nature. - Courtesy of Disney+
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Also debuting that day is "The Biggest Little Farm: The Return," in which viewers catch up with John and Molly Chester, the subjects of the award-winning 2018 documentary "The Biggest Little Farm," who gave up the city life in Los Angeles to run their own farm just to the north in Ventura County, where they grow food in harmony with nature.

This new special chronicles the couple's decadelong efforts to transform previously barren land into their Apricot Lane Farms, a complex world where the farmers use the interconnectedness of nature to build healthy soil, maximize biodiversity and grow the most nutrient-dense food possible. It's also where viewers will meet some of the animals that reside there.

"Polar Bear," narrated by Catherine Keener, captures the life of a young mother polar bear as she raises cubs in an increasingly challenging world.
"Polar Bear," narrated by Catherine Keener, captures the life of a young mother polar bear as she raises cubs in an increasingly challenging world. - Courtesy of Disney+

And in "Polar Bear," produced by Disneynature and narrated by Catherine Keener, filmmakers Alastair Fothergill ("Blue Planet") and Jeff Wilson ("Penguins: Life on the Edge") head to the frozen tundra of Norway, a country closed off to the rest of the world by the pandemic, to capture the life of a young mother polar bear whose memories of her own youth prepare her for the task of raising cubs in the increasingly challenging world they face today.

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