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France 2009
Directed by
Jacques Perrin / Jacques Cluzaud
90 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars


Synopsis: Three quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by ocean. We meet some of its inhabitants and celebrate this extraordinary underwater world.

Oceans is apparently one of the most successful docos of all time, and yet to call it a documentary doesn’t quite do justice to the feeling that the film is more like an underwater ballet or opera. In this respect it is reminiscent of Luc Besson’s Atlantis (1991).

The film has taken four years to come to fruition, and makes use of ground breaking technology to introduce us to nearly a hundred of the amazing inhabitants of the sea: fish, walrus, dugongs, crabs, stingrays, sharks, eels, penguins, jellyfish, sea lions, turtles . . . .the cast-list goes on and on. (The one thing missing is those eerie denizens of the dark depths, but perhaps they will be the subject of a follow up film.)

The same directors made Travelling Birds (2001) in which they used a miniature robot plane to give us a sense of being part of the flock. Similarly in this film special cameras have been employed to give us the experience of being there in the ocean, swimming along with the schools of fish, plodding along the seabed with crabs, or cavorting with breaching humpbacks and playful dolphins. Everywhere bubbles swirl, and creatures leap, play, hunt and feed among the waves. Shots of every angle are employed, aerial, below sea, mid-sea, in the waves, tracking shots that keep pace with speeding schools – it is all so immediate and wonderful. Seldom have I seen such magnificent shots of whales breaching, or dolphins leaping, and at times we almost feel the “personality” of many of the creatures, such as when playful otters float around on their backs attacking oyster shells with a rock.

Along with the experiential approach, there is an important message regarding ecology and the critical role oceans have to play in maintaining species diversity and as the life-blood of Planet Earth. In one rather shocking segment we see the dire effects of plastic waste as it moves in huge drifts around the globe, entrapping animals and polluting the oceans. In other parts we see the role that over-fishing has played in the threatened extinction of many species.

You don’t have to be an animal lover to simply revel in this gorgeous looking film, which perhaps overreaches by calling itself “Oceans”  – this vast blue place holds far too much to pack into a mere 1.5 hours!! Also the sometimes annoying narration by Pierce Brosnan comes across as superfluous and at times condescending. But seldom will you get a chance to see more wonderful cinematography and to be really feel a part of this fascinating marine world.




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