Magnificent scenes of masses of ocean creatures that most of us could never see otherwise grace the big screen in Disney’s Oceans. Huge flocks of sea foraging birds dive, huge schools of fish dance and dive and swirl. Whales bursting through to breach the surface scattering myriad fish through the air in their spray sing before doing a mid-air twist.
There are oceanic love scenes between parents and babies, like the walrus that carefully holds his little cub as they lounge together in the ocean waters. There is the mother sealion, who tenderly (if slightly clumsily) pats her baby’s head as it nuzzles to suckle. There are the penguin buddies who seem to make every move in perfect synchronization.
Disney’s early animal animations featuring stars like Bambi and Thumper led to a fabulous unexpected consequence that led to the beginning of nature films and TV nature programs like Disney’s The True-Life Adventure movie series and Mutual of Omaha’a Wild Kingdom where Jim Fowler got his start as co-host to host Marlin Perkins. As Disney himself says, “we discovered that when nature writes the screenplays, real animals are often more surprising than antics we dream up for our cartoon characters.” His point is emphasized by a shot of a field mouse nibbling a meal standing on it hind legs while blissfully catching a ride on the back of a turtle.
Being released in conjunction with Earth Day 2010, Oceans is a tribute to our oceans and our oceanic friends and a sad reminder that research shows that 2/3s of what they eat for food is plastic particles; that of every fish tested for chemical contaminants, every fish tested as contaminated; that President Obama’s health council recommends avoiding eating ocean fish; that the oceans are developing creeping dead zones where oceanic life has vanished because there is no oxygen in the water.
Of course there are scenes in which our ocean friends act like the wild species they are instead of acting like loving family members or cute cartoon characters. Wild species must eat and other species are their food. Wild species must defend themselves and claim habitat niche territory, and (when Humankind is not around) other species are their enemies and members of their own species pose threats.
Wild species need healthy ecosystems—and the ocean is a biome that contains many amazing ecosystems, even below the frozen regions of the Antarctic—in which to thrive and in which the relationship between predator and prey can be maintained to produce healthy populations of both. Lest we forget, we really enjoy making our meals off of ocean inhabitants and for us to do so in a manner that doesn’t add to our already heavy chemical body burdens of phthalates, dioxins, PAHs, PCBs and worse, we have serious work to do to clean up our oceans.
If we can’t do this for the sake of a healthy global biome; if we can’t do it for the sake of the majestic creatures who live and love and communicate there (the Dolphin grammar has been decoded and, yes, that means Dolphins have a definable language—seems the Galactic Hitchhiker was right after all), then maybe we can selfishly do it for our own palettes and own appetites. After all, who wants to ingest plastic particles that have been ingested by fish that we want to ingest?
The beauty, drama and revelation of Oceans is overwhelming, complete with jellyfish-like creatures that are taller than a man and as broad in both directions as the length of a good sized SUV, not to mention the dangling tendrils (“Squishy. Squishy. He shall be my Squishy. Come on, Squishy…” bounce bounce bounce).
This is a documentary, beautifully narrated by Pierce Brosnan, full of dramatic scenes that even those who are not fans of documentaries will want to see. It may not sweep the world the way March of the Penguins (2005) did (but then again…it might!), but thanks to directors Jacques Cluzaud and Jacques Perrin, it will certainly sweep you to a new level of bliss—along with the walrus—and a new comprehension of the workings and wonders of our complex—but not unlimited—oceanic world.
Remember when it was thought that the atmosphere above our world was unlimited and could therefore store or absorb all our car exhaust and factory smoke? Well—the ocean isn’t anymore unlimited than the atmosphere and, just as was true of the atmosphere, the ocean has reached its capacity for toxins and poisonous chemicals. Give a little love. Give a walrus clean water to hug a cub in. Make a clean ocean a priority.
Jacques Cluzaud and Jacques Perrin – Directors
Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud – Screenplay Writers
Michael Katims – English Narration
Pierce Brosnan - Narrator