Enticements for Educators: Oceans is a Dazzling Disney Documentary
“Oceans” opens with a young boy staring in wonder at the ocean and turns all of us into children of wonder with 103 minutes of eye-popping underwater exploration of the world’s oceans. The film gives off vibes similar to Sony’s “Winged Migration,” which presented an intimate portrait of birds.
Indeed, it is the second creation by “Winged” co-directors Jacques Cluzaud and French actor/film-maker Jacques Perrin, who briefly appears on screen. “Oceans” combines a sense of wonder at nature’s underwater variety with a plea for great concern over the global environment. Heartbreaking images at the end of the film show human damage to our oceans.
A France-Spain co-production with Walt Disney Studios, “Oceans” is the result of 75 diving expeditions in 50 locations all over the world, spanning four years, where cameras capture 80 species of exotic fish, crabs, dolphins, whales, squid, lizards, sharks, turtles, and others so outlandish they defy simple classification. Unlike some nature films that use narration and anthropomorphic animals, this film presents nature as it is. The end result is a poetic underwater pageant without a story, which could hurt its appeal for very young children.
The straight nature approach is greatly assisted by Bruno Culais’ subtle score, which perfectly partners the excellent camera work. Vast schools of whales swimming in unison bring to mind those old synchronized swimming routines of Esther Williams and her chorines. Dramatic scenes of crabs crawling on the ocean floor might be out of a sci-fi feature.
Toward the end we are warned of the terrible future awaiting us if we continue to dump waste into the oceans of the world. Still, we are left to wonder at how the cameramen could capture such wondrous footage while traveling at considerable speed in close proximity to schools of untold numbers of fish, sharks (!) and whales.
Excellent educational materials for teachers are available on the Disney Web site: http://www.Disney.com. There you’ll also find ways to organize classroom visits. #