|The tribe that lives up a tree (for the BBC only)|
|BBC documentaries, Issue 1356|
WHEN the BBC’s Human Planet series visited the Korowai tribe of West Papua in 2011, it revealed a tribe of people who wore no clothes, spoke their own dialect and used stone age tools. What really captured viewers’ imaginations, though, was Human Planet’s footage of the Korowai building their “new home”, a treehouse 30m off the forest floor.
“The Korowai are so adapted to life in the jungle, they’ve taken to the trees… teetering in treetops is second nature to the Korowai,” says the narrator.
Imagine the surprise of one documentary lover when he tuned in to his favourite Hungarian factual series, On the Spot, made by a team of young, award-winning documentary-makers, and saw that they too had decided to visit the Korowai. The team visited the same area and filmed some of the same people as the BBC – but their film was substantially different.
Naked tree dwellers
And what of the treehouse? In the On the Spot film, it looks rather dilapidated. The reporter says: “Jacob claims they were only built to please the film-makers. Nowadays they don’t even think of living that high.” At the end of On the Spot, viewers see the Korowai people back in their village of wooden houses, wearing shorts and T-shirts. A far cry from the BBC’s naked tree-dwellers.
This isn’t the only time the BBC has skewed documentary footage for greater effect, of course. Later in 2011 Frozen Planet shot a polar bear birth that appeared to take place in the wild but was actually filmed in a zoo. And in 2007 a trailer for a royal documentary falsely made it appear that the Queen had stormed out of a photoshoot.
The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.