The beauty and power of the ocean to impact and sustain life is undeniable. To communicate that truth in an experiential rather than a scientific way, Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud have us imagine that a young boy asks the question:"what is the ocean?" To answer that question, the film takes us into these amazing bodies of water that surround our continents. Similar to Perrin and Cluzaud's earlier film "Winged Migration," their love for nature permeates the film.
The English version of the film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan, who does a satisfactory, though somewhat melodramatic job. The script was co-written by Jacques Cluzaud and Christophe Cheysson; it is also adequate but, at times, it is almost humorous without intending to be.
Although not as heavy-handed in its environmental message as it could have been, Oceans is clear in its view that humanity has in one lifetime caused great damage to this delicate and vital ecosystem. But this message is only a fraction of the film and should not keep viewers from enjoying this amazing presentation.
For those of us who view the natural world as the handiwork of God, Oceans reveals an amazingly imaginative Creator. From the gigantic blue whale that flies in a weightless world, to the colorful ribbon eel and the armies of spider crabs, the underwater world is endless in its surprises and varieties.
The responsibility we share to both enjoy this world as well as care for it is something about which everyone can agree. "Oceans" is an example of how to communicate the possibility of doing both. In the end, the film suggests that the ultimate question is not "What is the Ocean" but "Who are we" as caretakers of this beautiful, delicate, life-giving and life-sustaining creation.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. The interdependence of all life both above and beneath the ocean is a reality. What do you think the future of that fragile relationship will be?
2. The interactive cooperation of birds, dolphins and whales in order to share a feast of sardines reveals both sides of the natural world. How do you see "survival" expressed in both ways in the human world?
3. In the final scenes, the directors allow us to see the human ingenuity required to photograph this underwater world. This ability to appreciate the beauty of our world reveals something unique about us as human beings. Where do you think that uniqueness originates - from a Creator or not?
Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of the Free Methodist Church. For more reviews: www.cinemainfocus.com.