The Unknown Forest
The first of many bewitching portrayals of his native New Forest, naturalist and world-renowned wildlife filmmaker Eric Ashby spent over four years gathering footage for this forty five minute BBC feature.
Contrasting what the forest tourists saw with the rich diversity of the unknown areas, this pioneering production is an outstanding example of Ashby’s lyrical filmmaking.
Providing a quiet and dignified view of the area’s remarkable wildlife population, Ashby used no controlled settings, filming badgers and foxes in natural light, which was at the time an astonishing accomplishment. Described by Peter Scott as the ‘silent watcher’ his hours of patient observation often only resulted in brief seconds of footage, but those images were widely acknowledged to be the best that had ever been seen.
A huge success, viewers appreciated Ashby’s effortless intimacy with his animal subjects, and The Unknown Forest became a landmark production for the BBC Natural History Unit. The co-founder of the Unit, Chris Parsons, commented that his excitement upon receiving the footage regularly sent by Ashby, was similar to “opening a birthday present as a child”.