Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oceans: vast water-filled wonder

Oceans is not your typical documentary, as it incorporates a loose narrative storyline. Frenchman Jacques Perrin, the creator of this globe-spanning project, takes viewers to the edges, vast surface and perilous depths of the planet’s oceans, and reveals the myriad species that call the seashore and briny waters home.

The English version of the film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan, but that was not available in the cinema when I went to see it, and, due to a screw-up by the projectionist, I watched the first forty minutes of this film in French (a language I have no grasp of) without subtitles. But it hardly mattered – very little is said but I still found myself absorbed in the wondrous scenes before me.

Indeed, the filmmakers show us a mostly unseen world that is so much bigger and more beautiful than anything man has ever created – and, for the most part, humans only feature on the very periphery of this narrative. Yet, the film does not shy away from grim reality and depicts the severe impact humans have had on the oceans. The omega character in the title serves as a not-so-subtle hint as to what the creators’ feelings are towards the oceans’ future.

Classical music, vocals and sometimes no background sound at all is used to showcase the beauty and majesty of marine life. It's counter-intuitive, but in a moment of action, the silence can actually underscore the majesty of a great aquatic hunter.

The only minor complaint I have about this film was the fact most creatures featured in the documentary were not named – and this tended to annoy me slightly as the fish and molluscs certainly looked familiar but I could not place a name to them. But this is a minor gripe when one considers that a David Attenborough-style National Geographic production was not what the film-makers had in mind.

If you have not yet seen this magical film, I highly recommend it. Due to the stunning visuals, the film’s impact will probably be greater on a big screen, so hijack a friend’s plasma high-definition flat-screen if necessary, and be prepared to be riveted in awe.

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