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Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud (2009)
Howard Schumann (howard16)     Print Article 
Published 2010-05-11 02:27 (KST)   
Howard Schumann rates "Oceans" a B+.  <Editor's Note>
A France-Spain co-production, Oceans brings us up close and personal to the almost incomprehensible variety and beauty of ocean life, from the hauntingly exotic to the not so handsome creatures that inhabit the earth beneath the world's waters. The film, which took four years to shoot, is a result of seventy-five diving expeditions conducted in fifty locations throughout the world, from South Africa to Costa Rica to the North Pole. It is the second nature film by directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud whose Winged Migration followed multiple species of birds answering an urgent and mysterious call to migrate in search of food over thousands of miles through changes in time and seasons.

Released in honor of Earth Day, "Oceans" attempts to convey the wonders of nature together with a warning that the world's oceans and its myriad creatures are threatened by man-made pollution. Narrated by the silky smooth tones of actor Pierce Brosnan, underwater camera teams captured footage of eighty different species of fish including dolphins, whales, squid, lizards, crabs, turtles and more exotic creatures such as flying dragons, rockfish, mobula rays, silk scarves and a sea slug known as the Spanish dancer, all in livid colors and textures.

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"Oceans" opens with a group of young boys running towards the shore. One young boy about seven wonders what the ocean is really like. As he stands on the rocky coast, huge waves crash against the rocks as the camera swoops inside the watery world. We witness the fierce competition for food and the battle to stay alive but it is not only a world in which the big fish eat the little fish but one in which mothers care for their young with infinite tenderness. We see a battle between two armies of crayfish, the futile struggle of baby sea turtles to reach the sea if they are unlucky enough to be born during the day, the flock of birds that dive into the ocean to gobble up the small fish, and the enormity of the body of the blue whale.

One wonders how the cameras could have been there at the right moment: when mother sea lions clasp their babies to them, as creatures are born, and as parasites cling to their prey, making us feel that we are traveling along with the humpback whales as they migrate over 1000 miles to seek a cooler climate in the north. We see dolphins and turtles snared by the tuna nets and are shown the man-made debris that accumulates at the ocean's bottom with a seal swimming around a shopping cart, yet only minimal attention is given to environmental concerns and there is little discussion about creatures in danger of extinction.

Although the film immerses us in a world we are only vaguely conscious of and much of the sequences are poetic, the film suffers from repetition and a narration that is more soporific than informative, offering some description but mostly cliches like "anyone who knows the sea will tell you of her power," and short on compelling stories. Nonetheless, "Oceans" must be considered as a remarkable achievement whose stunning photography makes us feel part of a bigger world outside of ourselves and allows us to ponder not only what is the oceans' role is in the big scheme of things but indeed who we are and what is our place in the universe.
©2010 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Howard Schumann

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