Writer/Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud
Cinematographers: Luc Drion, Philippe Ros, Luciano Tovoli
Underwater’s greatest hits
Ever since Jacques Cousteau strapped on a video camera along with his mask and fins and dropped down into the deep blue, the ocean has continued to reveal the astonishing diversity of live it holds. Its allure had me convinced as a child that I’d grow up to be the next world-famous marine biologist. I learned to SCUBA dive, got a job at an aquarium store and could name most tropical fish before I could drive.
Still, with every new nature doc poking around beneath the surface came some new wonder I’d never seen. So I expected Disneynature’s much-hyped Oceans to leave me once again feeling like there was so much left to discover. Instead it played like a beautiful best hits of every underwater picture before it. The cinematography was the star as filmmakers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud revisited the same battle of orca vs. seal as Marlin Perkins showed us so many years ago on Wild Kingdom. Humpback whales, Spanish dancers, tool-wielding sea otters, acrobatic dolphins and thick swarms of jellies—these are the familiar faces of the ocean and they all reprise their roles here, and they’ve rarely looked so lovely.
Pierce Brosnan’s vague narration often hints at polemics which never materialize. This is a vague, cautionary tale of how man might potentially ruin our waters, but an optimistic one that spends most of its time telling us what we’d be missing if we do. The filmmakers are content to dreamily wander from creature to creature, giving us glimpses of its diversity and power, and bits of our destructive nature.
There are a few treats along the way—a carpet octopus who looks like he was handwoven from Japanese silk, a fearless shrimp who aggressively guards his digs, even a diver swimming unprotected alongside an enormous great white shark. But the film never dives very deep below the surface to the look at the impossible critters scuttling along the dark ocean floor.
The film opens with a boy, ostensibly looking at the ocean for the first time, and maybe that’s the problem. The remaining screen time is devoted to introducing the ocean to someone who’s never experienced it, even on film. For the rest of us, it’s a beautiful recap of what we already love.