going to the movies

We’ve just been to see the BBC movie Earth – the reviews we’d seen recommended it & the images (on view on the wall-to-wall TVs in the electronics shop) were stunning. What did we think?

Well, the images were stunning. Absolutely beautiful. Especially the underwater parts – elephants frolicking in the waters of the Okavango Delta in Africa (I’d frolic too if I’d walked for weeks through a desert to get there!). Seals doing that underwater ballet thing. Scores of sailfish hunting a swirling school of smaller fish. And the awful splendour of a mature great white shark leaping completely out of the water as it engulfs a seal in its jaws.

However… the music – well, I hate going to a movie where the soundtrack is used to tell you how to think about something. In a nature doco I’d much rather have the natural noises. They did get this right in places – the song of the humpback whale is lovely on its own, & it was left that way.

But what really did it for us was the voice-over. It began with a statement of the anthropic principle that might almost have come out of the recent ID tract, The privileged planet. I tried quite hard not to listen to it, after that (which was difficult because the narrator was Patrick Stewart, & he has such a lovely voice…), but still noticed that at least some of the script was of the tugging-at-the-heartstrings variety. Something else that I dislike in a nature film.

Overall… well, I know the film-makers had worthy intentions in making it, but for us they pushed many of the wrong buttons. Perhaps I should stick to pure escapism in future 🙂 But the images were wonderful.

5 thoughts on “going to the movies”

  • Have you watched Baraka? Its an older film, pure cinematography (no dialogue), but stunning film work. At least that how I remember it, anyway. You’d have to look in the “art House” section of the DVDs to find it, and perhaps its now too dated for most places to hold stock of it?

  • Alison Campbell says:

    Thanks for the recommendation 🙂 No, I haven’t seen it but we have an ‘art house’ video store in town that could well have it on the shelves. The only similar thing I remember had a long Inuit (?) name that started with Q & was also all images, no words. And was quite stunning.

  • I don’t think I know of the film you’re thinking of, but it reminds me of Atanarjuat, which I haven’t seen. Judging by the reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, Atanarjuat is a long film, perhaps slow paced, but with good cinematography. (If you’re searching for a review, I find it easiest to put the title of the film followed by ‘movie review tomatoes’ into google rather than use Rotten Tomatoes’s own search engine. You get to the same place in the end! e.g. ‘Baraka movie review tomatoes’) Rotten Tomatoes’ pages are very slow to load, but the reviews seem in tune with my feelings about the films and you get a simple percent score for when you’re in a hurry.
    The Baraka reviews points to Koyaanisqatsi, which I’ve never seen.

  • Could you mean Koyaanisqatsi? To quote the IMDB summary: “Koyaanisqatsi is a documentary (of sorts). It is also a visual concert of images set to the haunting music of ‘Phillip Glass’ . While there is no plot in the traditional sense, there is a definate scenario. The film opens on ancient native American cave drawings, while the soundtrack chants “Koyaanisqatsi” which is a Hopi indian term for “life out of balance”. The film uses extensive time lapse photography (which speeds images up) and slow motion photography to make comparisons between different types of physical motion. In one of the first examples, we see cloud formations moving (sped up) intercut with a montage of ocean waves (slowed down) and in such a way we are able to see the similarities of movement between these natural forces.”

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