I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I spoke to David Suzuki. Back in 2010, we chatted about Force of Nature, Sturla Gunnarson’s documentary about the things that shaped Suzuki’s career. Force of Nature marked the longtime Nature of Things host’s 75th birthday; now here we are ringing in Suzuki’s 80th on March 24 with another peek behind the curtain at his life.
Co-written and directed by Daniel and Donna Zuckerbrot of Reel Times Images, “Suzuki @ 80″—airing Thursday during The Nature of Things—not only spotlights the man and his exploits but talks to those who know him intimately.
Rather than re-trace old ground covered in Force of Nature—Suzuki’s childhood, education and lab work—”Suzuki @ 80″ spends the bulk of its time aiming the lens at his family, including daughters Sarika, Severn, Tamiko, Laura, son Troy and wife Tara, who discuss how he inspired them and also poke fun at the man also known as “Suzuk.” There’s a sweet story about how Suzuki spotted Tara in a packed university hall, were married soon after and are celebrating 42 years together. You can’t help but smile watching Suzuki gamely following his pint-sized grandkids along the B.C. shoreline, picking up shells and inspecting small, scuttling crabs. He’s like the cool uncle (or grandfather) you can’t wait to visit because he’s smart, funny and cool.
But the man who has morphed from scientist to geneticist, TV host, author and environmentalist isn’t perfect. One old colleague discusses Suzuki’s strong personality, and his daughter bemoans the fact a 2/3-full coffee cup set down for a moment will be scooped up and cleaned.
It’s ironic that, at one point during the broadcast, Suzuki states memories are his most treasured possession. As viewers, we have decades of them thanks to Suzuki and The Nature of Things.
The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Help celebrate Suzuki’s birthday by tweeting well-wishes with the tag #SuzukiAt80 on Twitter.