How Netflix’s Life on Our Planet Created the Music of Evolution

Composer Lorne Balfe delves into the process of scoring life itself in Netflix’s Life on Our Planet.

Netflix's Life on Our Planet
Photo: Netflix

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Life on Our Planet is an ambitious undertaking, breaking down the history of the world through stories of survival, extinction, catastrophe, and evolution. The documentation of the earth’s development is more than a mere visual representation of the journey from primordial ooze, however. Evolution has a sound. Its theme is a universal harmonic, but the passing tones are dissonant.

Life on the place we call home relentlessly grew over its four-billion-year history, and the series required a composer whose mission is sonic exploration: Step forward Scottish composer Lorne Balfe, who scored box office blockbusters including Top Gun: Maverick—on which he worked with Lady Gaga—and several Mission: Impossible films. The musical veteran found new ground with Life on Our Planet. “I’ve never done anything in this genre,” Balfe tells us. “I always tried different things. If I do an action movie, I have a break and go to Disney, like Ticket to Paradise with George Clooney and Julia Roberts.” 

Life on Our Planet is not set in paradise, although some landscapes fleetingly pass for Eden on the surface. It begins in a pristine but lethal environment. 


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