Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blue Planet - Open Ocean

Part III of BBC's Blue Planet series reminded me to give a proper shout out of credit to the BBC Orchestra, who plays the opening sequence of music for the series. The extreme talent of those first bars of music really sets the tone, literally, for the show with a sense of majesty and elegance.
Open Ocean will satisfy a few curiosities about the watery desert that covers most of this planet, but in reality only exposes the fact that we still know very little about the largest area of livable space on earth. Think about it... wide open clear blue water... where there is no place to hide, and yet to find life can take days of swimming in any given direction. It is like a crazy game of Battleship where you start out with no idea of where to look, but once your prey is identified, GAME OVER. (insert Pac-Man like bleeps and bloops HERE)
This program really reminds those of us lucky to have actually been in the ocean with a de-fogged mask how different photos are from video when it comes to underwater media. The footage of the shoals / schools (depending on whom you ask) is awe inspiring. The photo to your left I took while snorkeling off a local beach in Boca Raton on a day when all I wanted to do was photograph budding staghorn coral. Needless to say, none of those shots turned out. Now compare that to the video clip below to really get the impact of how many fish are present. Yeah, I took that video clip on the same day so you really can see the difference of still vs. real time; and those darkish spots at the end of the clip are large chunks of rock only about 10 feet down.
The documentary does sport rare shots of animals like the Mola mola, a.k.a. sunfish, coming up from the depths to floating kelp lines that are sheltering cleaner fish. As a very loose storyline, Open Ocean also gives snapshots of the life cycle of the yellow fin tuna: floating eggs, helpless hatchlings, schooling juveniles, and hunting adults. In order for foot webs to really work, there must be massive quantities of the little stuff including plankton, fish eggs, and bait fish just to name a few. This is well explained and shown numerous times in the film.

All is not amazing. The presence of trash, or "flotsam" as referred in the program, is treated as another shelter source, and not, well... trash. It is NOT supposed to be there in the ocean at all, but this is not mentioned as a negative in any way. Disappointment #1. Then, some editor decided the footage of comb jellies requires goofy sci-fi sound effects and a floating crab merits strange and poorly inspired Asian music (I swear you can hear the *gwong* resonating)? Disappointment #2. That is enough in the end to knock the whole picture down a ripple.

RATING: ~~~ (3 out of 5 waves) still worth watching

Enjoy the Olympics and try watching a sport you may have not paid attention to in the past. And I will happily explain the scoring system of "curling" if you are interested!


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