Reviewed by GREG KING
Directors: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzard.
Lovers of the National Geographic style of documentary and television wildlife documentaries will certainly enjoy Oceans, the new documentary from Disney and French filmmakers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzard (the Oscar nominated Travelling Birds, etc). Perrin and Cluzard take us on an underwater journey with their latest film, which they have described as a “wildlife opera.”
The film was shot over a period of four years in a host of diverse locations using some of the latest technology, which is way beyond anything that the famed oceanographer Jacques Costeau had at his disposal. The result is visually quite stunning, especially when seen on the big screen. Some twenty cinematographers worked on the film. During the end credits we get to see the filmmakers interacting with the sea creatures and swimming with the fishes. Along the way we meet many of the diverse life forms and get up close with the denizens of the deep, including whales, penguins, and schools of brightly coloured fish.
During the course of the film we meet some 90 different species of sea creatures, although there is precious little information given about them. Instead, what we have is a marvellously intimate close up of the various creatures both at play and feeding on other species. The filmmakers also introduce us to some rare and endangered species, serving a timely ecological warning about this vanishing undersea world.
The film delivers a potent message about the damage being caused to the oceans by pollution, predators, and the millions of tonnes of garbage dumped into the oceans, and it sends a strong warning about the need to preserve the fragile marine ecosystem. “Human indifference is the oceans’ greatest threat,” remarks Pierce Brosnan, our narrator for this undersea journey. However, there is something dry and cliched about his narration, translated from the more poetic and lyrical French, which is delivered in bored and distracted tones by Brosnan.
Unfortunately, the film has a “seen it all before” vibe, and little of the material is fresh. While we’ve all seen footage of polar bears, sharks, dolphins, whales, and the cute antics of penguins before, there are also some unusual sea creatures captured on film. The most spectacular scene features a flock of birds dive bombing a school of fish for their food; accompanied by Bruno Coulais’ wonderful score this is easily the standout sequence.
With Oceans Perrin and Cluzard actually add little to our understanding of these creatures, as there is a lack of solid facts or connecting threads to link it all together in coherent fashion. Also, the version we are seeing locally is 20 minutes shorter than the original overseas version first released in 2010.