This is a gift. A gift from David Attenborough, the Jacques Cousteau of our time. A gift from the BBC, whose Planet Earth II will reveal, over the course of the next six weeks, in gorgeous videos like this one, the ways of nature to man. The show began Sunday with an incredible episode on the fauna of the Galapagos Islands. Just put your headphones on and watch the clip.
This perfect video obeys every structural law of cinema storytelling and manages to convey a deep political truth. Watch as a newly born lil baby iguana with a great side-eye—our underdog (underlizard?), a figure for democracy in the face of tyranny—begins to suspect that something's about to eat it. He's not wrong. A Galapagos racer snake—sworn, armless enemy—slithers up and attempts to strike. The baby iguana takes off just in the nick of time, with the snake in hot pursuit. Then DOZENS (but, emotionally, MILLIONS) of racer snakes pour from the surrounding rocks and chase after the scrappy hatchling. The violin music at this point is shredding the air to pieces, but it cuts to a horrific, sudden silence once the mob of snakes overcomes our hero. You think it's over, but then the the iguana escapes the writhing ball of snakes! Then the animal, cold as the law, awkward as a broken toy, scrambles up a rock to safety.
Tomorrow we will either decide to elect as our head of state a not-so-crypto-fascist or the most qualified person ever to run for the office. Based on early voting numbers, it's looking like the reasonable choice has the best chance of winning, but the fact that an authoritarian strongman has come so close to winning the highest seat in our system suggests that our democracy is a much more fragile thing than it seems. Hopefully democracy will escape its demons as this baby iguana escaped its snakes, even if only barely.