Good Shepherds blends musical performances by the Vienna Boys Choir with an anthropological exploration of shepherd carols from across the world. It’s captivating and creatively structured to provide a broad view of its subjects, but this isn’t an abstract sort of work; it has a specific vision for humanity and it has a point it builds toward across its episodic narrative.

That message is delivered by primatologist / ecologist Jane Goodall, who narrates the film and brings in her own studies and life story to help bolster the ideas. 

Shepherds represent one of the fundamental jobs in human society, a necessity in an agricultural society. Someone needs to tend to the livestock, to guide it and let it grow. Cultures around the world have this role and have songs about it. The performances by the Vienna Boys Choir are outstanding, and the combination of imagery and their music is lovely.

“I like to imagine God and Mother Earth wondering … did we create the right animal (to take care of creation),” Goodall muses. Her thoughts and worries about the way humankind is not responding proactively to climate change is an interesting juxtaposition with the beauty of the music from across our history. We’re a species capable of creating great beauty, but conserving the world around us? We can only hope.