Monday, February 27, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Oceans (2010) ***½

G, 104 min.
Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud
Writers: Christophe Cheysson, Jacques Cluzaud, Laurent Debas, Stéphane Durand, Laurent Gaudé, Jacques Perrin, François Sarano
Narrator: Pierce Brosnan

Part of the DisneyNature documentary series, “Oceans” is a beautiful imagescape of the wonders of the ocean. Unlike “African Cats”, the narration provided in the English version by Pierce Brosnan does not single out a few animals and tell an imposed story over the footage. Instead, “Oceans” is a broad overview of all life found in our world’s oceans. We see a great many creatures and a great many sights, but there are no in depth studies of any one aspect.

What the filmmakers have concentrated on here is highlighting the beauty of life to be found in the oceans. There are images here I’ve never beheld before. Schools of fish swirl around in underwater tornadoes. Turns dive into the water by the thousands taking advantage of the multitude of fish just below the water’s surface. How do they avoid hitting one another? Surprisingly a whale bursts out of the water in the middle of the turns’ fishing storm.

This is not a film to answer any questions you might have about the species featured. Instead it will probably inspire questions. For me, this made the movie all that more successful. After seeing this, I want to learn more about our oceans. I want to know why the ribbon eel is made the way it is. Why do those masses of crabs off the coast of Africa march into battle with each other? But there’s no moment here where these questions nag, because just as they form, the filmmakers have moved on to something else. Instead, I think it inspires further research, which is a much better way to learn than staring at a movie screen.

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