BLUE

Reviewed by GREG KING

Documentary

Director: Karina Holden.

Like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, this impressive, earnest and persuasive documentary deals with environmental issues as well, but it also delivers some inconvenient but necessary truths of its own about the destruction of our oceans. Blue is a sobering and timely look at the ecology of our oceans, and it considers the impact that man has had on the world’s oceans.

This documentary shows us the devastation that is being caused everyday across the planet from overfishing, coastal developments, pollution, and the large amount of plastic that contaminates our waterways. In particular, it looks at the social impact and the sustainability of the fishing industry, especially in third world countries and coastal communities where fishing is a way of life. People in coastal communities in Indonesia and the Philippines rely on fish for their livelihood, both as a source of food and income.

In the past 40 years, nearly half of all marine life has vanished and fish stocks have diminished by 50%; our coral reefs have suffered due to bleaching caused by warmer waters; species of sharks and tuna are facing extinction due to over fishing or illegal fishing activities; more than 250,000 tonnes of plastic have ended up in the oceans; and an estimated 50 million plastic bags regularly end up in the oceans. Plastic slowly breaks down over the years, causing huge environmental problems and choking sea creatures and birds.

Blue follows seven so-called ocean guardians who have made it their mission to monitor their environments and try to make a difference. Tim Silverwood is an environmentalist and plastics campaigner who aims to remove 3 million pieces of plastic from the oceans in the next three years. Mark Dia investigates and exposes corruption within the fishing industry and he monitors illegal fishing activities. He highlights concerns about the sustainability of the fishing industry. Jennifer Laver is a marine ectoxicologist who works to save sea birds from the consequences of swallowing and ingesting plastic. Phillip Mango is a sea ranger who works to preserve the Cape York Peninsula by rescuing sea animals that have become entangled in the fishing nets that regularly wash up on the beaches. Madison Stewart works to stop the slaughter of sharks, which are being killed for their fins – a delicacy in certain parts of the world – while the rest of the shark is cut up and fed to pigs or turned into pet food. And veteran oceanographer 82-year old Valerie Taylor bemoans the fact that the current generation will not see the vast variety of colourful marine life that she has experienced. Some carefully integrated archival footage showing a much younger Taylor swimming with the sharks has been effectively incorporated into the film. Each of these various conservationists provide their own voice over narration and perspective on the issues that confront them.

Blue is the debut feature film for Karina Holden, who comes from a background in science, but who has twenty-year’s experience in film and television documentary, having worked at the ABC in its Natural History Unit, and as a filmmaker for National Geographic. She brings a wealth of experience to the project, and there is no doubting her passion for the ecological and environmental messages that the film delivers. Holden had previously worked on Life On The Reef for the ABC. Blue is a passion project for Holden, who has spent two years working on the film and shooting in a variety of locations – from the Great Barrier Reef to Indonesia, the Philippines and Hawaii.

This a beautiful looking film with some spectacular and evocative imagery from cinematographer Jody Muston, who is better known for her work on dark drama such as StalkHer, etc. The visuals are deeply affecting at times, and have a lasting impact. The natural beauty of the ocean depths and the marine life creates a vivid contrast with the uglier images of the destruction of these marine habitats. The visuals are accompanied by a nicely understated score from Ash Gibson Grieg.

Blue delivers an urgent plea for us to change our attitudes. The issues are clearly presented and persuasive, and this documentary is a must see.
★★★★

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