Every year sees heavy summer storms with thunder and lightning, hail and torrential rain raging over the country. The film shows the extraordinary strategies adopted by animals, from the tiniest insects to foxes and moles, to cope with the threat. A nature documentary, which sheds a very new light on the animal and plant world – when the situation gets desperate.
It begins – literally – with a thunderclap. Crashing and flashing, a violent cloudburst descends on the highland landscape. This is no normal summer storm but a violent tempest that rips branches from trees and swells streams to overflowing. No human being would choose to leave home in this. Animals, though, are at the mercy of the storm – many of them completely defenceless. Deer seek refuge in the forest. Two eagle owl chicks have no protection; they press themselves close together. Without a roof over their heads, they’re getting wetter and wetter and make a pitiful sight. Will they survive the storm?
When lightning flashes and thunder roars most animals are very directly exposed to the elements. The film shows their strategies for surviving thunderstorms and downpours unscathed. Some species are highly weather-sensitive. They sense when a storm is brewing and take shelter. Other species actually benefit from storms breaking out – from newly formed bodies of water or unexpected feasts. But basically all creatures have to have their wits about them, when stormy weather approaches like a monstrous beast of prey. One wrong move can be their last.
While most nature films show animals only in the best of weather, in warm morning or evening light, here we’re dealing with desperate conditions. Many chicks and young animals don’t survive their first months. A sudden break in the weather can wipe out a whole brood. We seldom think about the forces that can be unleashed by the elements – especially when we’re cocooned at home, safe from the raging weather outside.
This film takes viewers literally into the eye of the storm. The oppressive heat before the bad weather breaks, the distant rumbling of thunder, the perilous flashes of lightning and the vehemence of the rain – never before has a storm and the behaviour of very different species at its mercy been rendered so palpable as in this documentary. Rarely has the struggle of animals against the elements been captured so intimately. A wildlife documentary with the stylistic devices of a disaster thriller.