FIVE FILMS & SERIES THAT CAPTURE THE HEART OF THE OCEAN

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Written by Joyell Nevins

“We need many things to make the world a better place. But, nothing else will matter if we fail to protect the ocean. Our fate and the ocean’s are one.” – Sylvia Earle, oceanographer

The ocean has an irrefutable impact on our globe. It is also being undeniably threatened and destroyed by human actions. While the number of species classified is increasing, the population of many of those species is rapidly decreasing.

More than 250 tons of plastic waste is now floating in the sea, oxygen-depleted dead zones are on the rise, and many coral reefs are being bleached to extinction.  

Sometimes, we need a physical picture to put alongside the data. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of the majesty of the sea. What follows are productions that help us to meet those needs, as organizations, journalists, and even surfers attempt to showcase, through film, the wonders of our watery world.

IF YOU ONLY HAVE A FEW MINUTES…

Check out Conservation International’s “Nature is Speaking” series. It is a collection of short films, two to three minutes each, that features stark and beautiful images of elements of nature with voiceovers from celebrities speaking from the point of view of those elements. Harrison Ford provides the voice of the ocean itself, while Ian Summerhold specifically speaks from the coral reef’s perspective. In more general monologues, Penelope Cruz speaks as water, and Liam Neeson gives a voice to ice.

IF YOU WANT A BROAD OVERVIEW…

BBC Earth, producers of the widely-acclaimed “Planet Earth” series, has created a series called ‘The Blue Planet’, which focuses solely on the ocean. Its 50-minute episodes are packed with breathtaking visuals and educational facts about the ecosystems that live in the deep. You can find out where to swim with fish in open waters, see the marine life that survives in the harsh climates of the Arctic and Antarctica, and discover how coral reefs produce so much life.

IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND THE DANGERS OF POLLUTION…

“The Plastic Ocean” is a 2016 documentary made by journalist Craig Leeson and diver Tanya Streeter alongside a team of international scientists. They visited more than 20 locations to see the reality of plastic pollution and how it devastates the ocean’s ecosystem. The film features sweeping shots and interviews with both experts and laymen.

IF YOU ARE CURIOUS ABOUT MARINE MAMMALS OR AQUATIC PARKS…

“Blackfish” shook the marine park economy when it premiered in 2013. The documentary looked at marine species in captivity, honing in on killer whales pulled from the wild. The history and then-current status of the animals’ treatment was, like with “The Plastic Ocean”, shown by incorporating majestic images with pertinent interviews. Since its release, Sea World and other aquatic parks have responded with attacks against the film’s claims, but have also changed their policies to be more humane.

IF YOU JUST WANT A REMINDER OF THE BEAUTY AND JOY OCEANS BRING…

“The Endless Summer,”  now a cult classic from 1966 with the then-unknown Bruce Brown, follows two surfers on a summer quest for the perfect wave. The surfers travel the world, meeting a host of colorful characters, and seeing a variety of coastal habitats. Some of the cinematography and dialogue may be hokey by today’s standards, but it’s still jaw-dropping when you’re staring down that pipeline. Plus, the surfers’ joy and easygoing manner is definitely infectious.

These films are merely a small sample of the cinema choices that focus on our mighty oceans. The blue part of the planet is teeming with life and power and if we respect and honor it, she will continue to do so for generations to come.