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OCEANS

SYNOPSIS:
Nearly three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered by water; this film chronicles the mysteries that lie beneath its surface, diving deep into the waters that sustain all of mankind, exploring the harsh reality and the amazing creatures that live in this exotic, unseen world. Many things never seen before are captured by the latest underwater technology. Shot over four years, it reveals astonishing wildlife, including endangered marine species.

Review by Louise Keller:
Enthralling, enlightening, meditative and often humorous, this is a wonderful documentary about the oceans and those who live within it. It has been 10 years since Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud's unforgettable Travelling Birds, and now this wildlife opera, as described by Perrin, opens a window into an underwater world bursting with a diversity of life. The sea-life on display ranges from flying giants to bizarre-featured creatures and ornate ones whose butterfly dress sense could impress at the races. Spectacularly filmed in five continents and six oceans with a massive cast of 90 fish and sea-creatures, Oceans is a wondrous experience for all ages. It's a miracle of a film.

A dopey sea-lion rolls contentedly in the sand with a priceless expression on its face; hungry birds dive from the sky into the impenetrable schools of fish, spearing their prey with adept precision. The intricate patterns of the schools as they morph effortlessly in formation are no doubt the influence for Escher's artistic explorations of infinity. Garden eels and razor fish perform a ballet; the Sea Sloth is a Spanish Dancer with red cape floating behind. Horse shoe crabs tiptoe past a dozing sea-lion and the Asian Sheepshead Wrasse stuns by its distinctive oversize features. A marine Iguana devours food in coral while inside a drop of water, the lava of a sea urchin is like an asteroid in an underwater galaxy. Watching the blue whale, the world's largest mammal soar into the air before diving into the vast ocean is one of the extraordinary sights on display.

Whether it's the baby turtles, the clown fish, the great white shark, the strange winged dragon or the moon jelly that looks like a silky giant parachute on the ocean floor, the range of creatures and experiences we share is countless. If you are curious as to how close the filmmakers get to their subjects, wait until the credits, when you will see the cameramen literally coming eye to eye with them. This is a documentary not to be missed; my only reservation lies with Pierce Brosnan's stilted and mannered narration, which detracts somewhat.
First published in the Sun-Herald

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With its understated but powerful message of conservation, Oceans gives us an underwater view as enthralling as the filmmakers gave us with Travelling Birds. Not in the blue skies but in the blue oceans of our planet, we meet and greet some of nature's most exotic and inventive creatures; 90 of them.

Yes, we have seen underwater wildlife films before (at least those of us old enough to have been interested in them) notably Jacques Cousteau's many films and TV shows. The difference is that new technology has helped these filmmakers to build new tools for underwater cinematography that enables them to be more flexible, faster in the water - like 15 knots - which is how they captured profile footage of dolphins speeding through the water, for example.

Another technical advance was the special mid-air, mid-water gadget that was used to film above and below the surface.

They also used a small, silent, remote controlled camera (Birdfly) which enabled them to approach the largest cetaceans when they are on the surface. Other gadgets include a gyro-stabilized camera on a crane and a digital camera that enabled them to capture extremely small, gentle movements.

The result is a film that takes us into the underwater world in an intimate and unobtrusive fashion. The creatures are not disturbed by the cameras and the cameras capture amazing scenes of feeding and fighting.

There is also humour throughout, often from the antics of animals like the clever little sea otter which cracks open nuts by smacking them against a stone balanced on its belly as it floats in the water. And touching moments, too, as when the walrus mum takes her baby in her 'arms' for a swim.

Pierce Brosnan's narration (written by the filmmakers) is inflected with a lyrical view of the sea and delivered with feeling. Feelings, indeed, are what are aroused while watching this exceptional effort, which took four years to film.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

OCEANS (G)
(France/Switzerland/Spain, 2009)

CAST: Documentary

NARRATION: Pierce Brosnan (English version)

PRODUCER: Nicolas Mauvernay, Jacques Perrin

DIRECTOR: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud

SCRIPT: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Simon Christidis, Luc Drion, Laurent Fleutot, Philippe Ros, Luciano Tovoli

EDITOR: Catherine Mauchain, Vincent Schmidt

MUSIC: Bruno Coulais

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jean Rabasse

OTHER: Eric Borjeson (underwater cinematographer)

RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 26, 2011







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