Oceans from Disney

Documentary: Oceans

Oceans from Disney
Oceans from Disney

This is a French film by Jaques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud. There is a Disney version that is 20 minutes shorter, narrated by Pierce Brosnan, and aimed at young American audiences. Tony and I watched with the French narration and English subtitles.

The narration is sparse, nonsensical, and hard to follow. Fortunately it probably amounts to a page or two of text, and is scattered between large sequences of footage with only the sounds of the sea or a light musical accompaniment. Unlike the BBC Blue Planet documentary, none of the animals on screen are idenfied, nor is their behaviour explained.

Tony and I spent a lot of time wondering how some of the underwater sequences were filmed. State of the art cameras and filming techniques were used, and it shows.

There is incredible footage of marine iguanas, whales of multiple varieties, battling (or mating?) spider crabs, dancing dolphins, schools of gorgeous jellyfish, and a hilarious night sequence involving a grumpy mantis shrimp. I was amazed to see a huge whale swimming over a sandy bottom with only a foot or two to spare under his belly – imagine having such a big body, AND knowing where all of it is at one time! I love the manatee vacuuming the ocean floor, and the cuddling sea lions. There’s a breathtaking sequence showing a diver in scuba swimming along right next to a 4 metre great white shark. The clarity of the water hints that it wasn’t filmed here…

I loved the sequence towards the end of the film, showing various ships engaged in battling colossal waves. The power of the waves is very apparent. The narrative arc, such as it is, is very mixed and patchy, but the images are so compelling this hardly matters.

The film touches on the damage done by purse seine fishing, long-lining and shark finning – that footage in particular is horribly upsetting. From what I can understand from the credits (French) and my googling, this footage was staged and no animals were actually harmed, but this doesn’t detract from how awful it is.

You can order the DVD here if you’re in South Africa, otherwise on Amazon.com.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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