This article focuses on the development of sensation in wildlife films. Nature films produced by Walt Disney and Jacques Cousteau in the 1950s are compared with recent films by Steve Irwin and the bbc. Does the belief that media content has generally become more and more sensational also apply to this film genre? Not much research has been done into wildlife films over the years, so they are a rewarding research object. One person who has researched this subject is Derek Bousé. His work is quoted frequently in this article as his book Wildlife Films (2000) contains a lot of useful information. Bousé’s theories, but also those of Greg Mitman (1999), Meryl Aldridge & Robert Dingwall (2003), and Simon Cottle (2004) are used to construct a general theoretical framework about the history of wildlife films, the narrative, subgenres and the commercialization of the genre. The research was carried out using a list of sensation characteristics composed by Nuijten (2007). The method for the actual research on sensation was prepared using theories from Bordwell & Thompson (2001) and Hansen et al. (1998). The analysis explains whether the viewer is being presented with a realistic picture of nature or one that has been heavily dramatized. Furthermore, it establishes whether sensation plays a greater role these days than it has in the past. Here’s a clue: lions are not the active hunters we think they are...

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Meenink, Liesbeth. (2009). Sensatie op de prairie. Een onderzoek naar de ontwikkeling van sensatie in natuurfilms van vijftig jaar geleden en nu. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 12(2), 287–312. doi:10.18146/tmg.568