Documentaries such as Blue dive (in this case literally) into their subject matter and uncover various facts and insights to share with audiences. A film like this will have the support of interesting visuals, but that very rarely outshines the information we hear. However, with Blue, while we get an education on its chosen subject matter, the big takeaway is how audiences are given the treat of beautiful cinematic sequences one after another.
Going off the title, you get a gist of what this documentary may discuss. It focuses on the ocean realm, and how current human behaviour has drastically changed the condition of the blue water that makes up most of our planet. We begin with one of our main characters, Lucas Handley swimming in the ocean, among a large number of fishes, and even more dangerous underwater species. The visuals and initial narration paint a beautiful picture of someone at one with nature. But as the narration changes tone, we see Lucas swimming with fishes that you can count on one hand. You’re on a mini-emotional journey instantly that sets the tone for this seventy-six-minute film.
We meet a lot of different people, each of whom informs us of problems our ocean is experiencing. Madison Stewart explores Lombok, Indonesia, where she finds a large amount of fishing for sharks, which are dying so those fishing can sell a few parts of their body. It’s one of the first instances of audiences witnessing humans damaging the ocean because larger creatures like sharks need more time to reproduce. Time they are not getting due to Indonesia’s alarming rates of shark fishing.
While each individual we follow provides an interesting, and at times, alarming insight into what is going wrong with our ocean. Nothing is as impactful or emotional as Dr. Jennifer Lavers’ discovery of the damages of plastic. Not only do we see Dr. Jennifer removing countless bits of plastic from a sea bird, the film quickly makes audiences aware that this is their doing. Everyone watching likely uses plastic and throws a large amount of it away without a care in the world. However, one shot of Dr. Jennifer at work is all it takes for guilt and horror to set in as we become aware of the repercussions of our actions.
Unlike Natalie Portman’s Eating Animals, Blue is able to capture audiences much more with its visuals as the team seemed to have fewer restrictions. Horrific shots of plastic on beaches, plastic inside sea birds and local Indonesians slaughtering sharks are clear and on-screen as our main characters dish out facts. Also, as mentioned above, Jon Shaw’s underwater shots are mesmerising. Whether it’s shots from high above or deep in the water looking up, you always have a unique perspective. The beauty of the water also makes us develop an attachment to it, and seeing our main characters swimming majestically alongside fishes allows audiences to experience a more pleasant visual as well.
Director Karina Holden does a good job bringing the documentary back to a positive note, not just with nice-looking shots, but by showing audiences that hope is not lost. There are already positive signs, as small moves have been made to ensure our marine life is able to flourish. It’s an effective way to get audiences on board and actively help make changes because they realise they’re not supporting a cause that has no hope.
Although Blue works in many ways, there is a part of me that feels like it could have benefited from being a small TV series. The film is broken down in parts, looking at various issues with different people leading the charge at different times. If there was more valuable information for each individual to share, maybe an episode on each person or each issue might have worked out better for this project. It’s also arguable the information would have stuck with audiences a lot more had they been given facts and statistics in shorter bursts.
In the end, though, Karina Holden has told an effective, enchanting, and encouraging story that allows you to marvel at sights, feel terrible about your actions, but also be hopeful that small changes in our everyday lives can go a long way to helping our beloved ocean.
Dir: Karina Holden
Scr: Karina Holden
DOP: Jody Muston
Underwater DOP: Jon Shaw
Editor: Vanessa Milton
Blue is now available to purchase.