What a beautiful movie that makes this continent come alive without using cute contrivances.

At the heart of the journey through “Wild Africa 3D” is water. Whether it’s the cascade of a waterfall or a volcanic lake, the central theme that runs (pardon the pun) through the adventure is the importance of water.

The creatures that live and die in a land where water can be both plentiful and scarce, depending on the season, are some of the most interesting you’ll ever see.

The film is “an adventure through epic landscapes to distant seas,” says narrator Helena Bonham Carter, adding elegance with her delivery.

The movie was helmed by a team of directors. If you have attended previous documentaries at the Putnam, you probably have seen their work: Mike Slee, “Flight of the Butterflies, Neil Nightingale, “Walking With Dinosaurs” and Patrick Morris, “Enchanted Kingdom,” are dependable filmmakers.

The photography is gorgeous. Always, I have loved watching time-lapse photography of blooming flowers, and you’ll see that here. The filmmakers also were able to snag footage of elephants swimming underwater, the demise of an unsuspecting prey animal at a watering hole and incredibly close shots of a lizard and a snake.

One of the most interesting and eye-catching scenes involves thousands of flamingoes at Lake Bogoria in Kenya. Some of the birds seek mates, and they move in an almost mystical dance in a sort of flock within a flock as they search for their partners.

It’s quite a sight to behold. And so is the little lizard that “dances” when it rests in the Namib Desert, where barely any rain falls. The lizards survive their scorching environment by lifting one or two feet at a time to keep from getting burned.

Additionally, a herd of elephants appears in majestic glory as, led by its matriarch, it hunts for precious water.

This is a production from BBC Earth, which has become internationally known for its television and big-screen documentary work.

One aspect of the movie I liked is the absence of the cuteness quotient. While I see nothing wrong with anthropomorphism, which is attributing human traits to animals, it doesn’t need to be a staple in a documentary with animal “stars.” This shows the cycle of life just as it is: Sometimes, the predators win, and the prey loses its life.

The environments, too, from Victoria Falls to the mountains of Kenya, are wonderful to behold.

This is a real spectacle of a film and one that you should see with your family.