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OCEANS

A Global Aquatic Adventure
For four years, "Oceans'” camera crews lived beside the creatures of the sea from the tiniest krill to the mightiest cetaceans—and everything in between. From pole to pole, multiple film crews sought out places where life continues as it has for thousands of years, as well as sites where the natural order has changed due to human encroachment.

"We found that in many places the sea life we were searching for no longer exists because of things like over-fishing, pollution and over-development,” says Cluzaud. "But we also found sanctuaries scattered here and there where life can express itself naturally, and recover with tenacity and strength. These small, remote places give us the hope that they are not a reflection of past diversity, but the expression of life, always renewable, wild and free.

"Near Cocos Island off of Costa Rica, you only need to put your head under water to see fish of all sorts,” continues Cluzaud. "There are a variety of sharks, as well as all types of rays and tortoises and sea mammals. In the northern Arctic, we went to the small island of Coburg, where even our Inuit guides had never set foot, and we saw seals, walruses and polar bears still at home by themselves. At the extreme west of the Galapagos Islands, which rarely sees more than one scientist in 20 years, eagles, sea iguanas, sea lions and cormorants fearlessly settled a few yards away to observe.”

Multiple crews traveled the globe as production manager Olli Barbé juggled time zones and seasons at the film's nerve center in Paris—Galatée Films French production studio. In some cases, crews returned to the same spots during the same season a year or more later to continue shooting. Perrin and Cluzaud accompanied crews to each location for the initial shoot to determine what kind of footage would be possible.

"Nature is neither controllable nor predictable,” says Cluzaud. "Luckily, Jacques and I came to this without any idea of limits, including that of time. Time was the most precious element that Jacques Perrin gave us by carrying the production on his shoulders. It was absolutely necessary to film images that allowed us to edit a sequence as rich and dynamic as we would do in a feature film. We needed to be able to start over and over again, whatever problems we encountered.”

Their persistence was rewarded with visuals unlike any filmed before, including a unique shot of the blue whale, the largest creature ever known to have existed on Earth, feeding.

"The blue whale is an almost mythical animal—furtive, rapid, discreet,” says Perrin. "And very, very big! It has almost never been filmed underwater and never, to our knowledge, while feeding. It took a great deal of time to successfully film the blue whale gulping down a cloud of krill. "To be exact, it was 28 weeks of patience,” he says. "Imagine 190 days of scrutinizing the sea, seeking krill schools and blue whales from sunrise to sunset. Thousands of failures yielded these extraordinary moments where we accompanied the whale into a cloud of krill. The success of the shots was thanks to the exceptional perseverance of American cameraman David Reichert.”

Few people on Earth are as familiar with the sea as Dr. Sylvia Earle, Explorer-in- Residence at the National Geographic Society and scientific advisor for Disney-nature. Often called the Jane Goodall of the ocean, Earle has been studying marine life up close since the 1950s, but "Oceans” was eye-opening even for this expert.

"I have had the joy of spending thousands of hours swimming with fish,” says Earle. "The time I have spent in the sea has given me a different perspective. I try to get everybody I can to go diving, but as hard as I try, I know I'm not going to get everybody to go jump in the ocean. The next best thing is to see ‘Oceans.' Even with all the diving that I've done, I've s

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