Like all its documentaries, the BBC's Frozen Planet is fascinating and exquisitely filmed. Their crew has captured amazing things, including the creeping ice tornado. Unfortunately, they cheated on their viewers when they faked a crucial polar bear scene in a zoo.
The fourth episode of Frozen Planet—which took four years to film—follows the life of a polar bear in the Arctic. At one point, the camera follows a polar bear mother into the cave she just excavated deep into the ice. Then the camera moves into the cave, where viewers enjoyed the tender scenes of the mom and her cubs. Needless to say, everyone melted because of the cuteness overload.
The only problem is that the cave was fake. It wasn't in the Arctic. It was built with plywood and cement in a zoo in Germany. Nowhere during the scene the BBC warned the viewers of this fact. It was presented as is, misleading everyone into believing the crew actually filmed that scene in the Arctic, like every other scene.
Sir David Attenborough, who has been accused of blurring the lines between fact and fake in the past, says that they couldn't get into the real cave, so they had to reproduce it with different bears. They didn't want to disturb the wild animals at that point. That is good. The only problem is that they don't warn the audience about the true nature of the scene.
Attenborough argues that they didn't try to mislead viewers. On their defense, they posted scenes showing how they made the cave in a behind-the-scenes web video, but I doubt many of their eight million viewers actually checked that out. [Daily Mail]