‘My Octopus Teacher’ Review

If you are not a marine biologist and you have not seen My Octopus Teacher, chances are you don’t have strong feelings for the eight-winged cephalopod. You might associate their tentacles with horror movies or hors d’oeuvres – but maybe not such sensational issues as interspecies communication between animals or post-traumatic physical renewal. serious, to name two of the indelible twists in this unorthodox nature drama.

No one can tell about the documentary’s title character, but there’s no doubt that for Craig Foster, a devoted diver and love of the documentary who shares center stage with her, this is a sentence. love story. His interest in an ordinary octopus evolved into a healthy obsession, and the resulting film, from directors Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, covers nearly her entire life. In less than a year and a half, months in the watery wilderness are meditative as well as action packed.

Key point

A commendable intimate deep dive.

My Octopus Teacher It’s not the first documentary that takes us into the flora and fauna of Earth’s oceans – a number of films by MacGillivray Freeman and Imax do just that. But this is the first work to capture the story of a sea creature from such an open, personal perspective, revealing not only emotional connections but also previous animal behaviors unknown to scientists.

The story unfolds with uncanny simplicity and astounding beauty in a sea off South Africa’s Western Cape, which is protected by a thick forest of kelp and is therefore relatively quiet. However, its waters are very cold, can dip below 50 degrees F. He wanted to have a first-hand experience with the environment and aimed to have as few fish and mollusks as possible. At the start of his adventure, the invigorating cold is also a lifeline for him, a path back to a sense of purpose. He told us: “Coldness upgrades the brain.

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In voiceover and on-screen interviews, Foster explains that he has returned to diving, a childhood joy, at a time when he felt exhausted from work and didn’t know how to continue. any. The urgency to heal himself is heightened by his school-age son’s desire to be a good father, Tom (who eventually becomes a diver of his own accord, as well as providing drone footage of the film). For a few brief moments in the beginning, My Octopus Teacher threatens to enter the dreaded territory of the self-reliant New Age. But Foster is so likable and humble as he is on screen, and his point of view is so concerned with the other, that any such fears are quickly dispelled.

Turns out his curiosity matched the octopus he visited on his daily dives, and she inspired Foster, who explored animal tracking and shamanic culture. of the Kalahari in the movies he made with his brother, to take the camera back. In turn, his interaction with the octopus inspired a friend of his, cinematographer Roger Horrocks, to join him in the surf. his Camera.

My octopus tear is a dazzling technical achievement, especially when you consider that directors Ehrlich and Reed and editor Dan Schwalm were faced with 3,000 hours of footage, shot over a period of eight years starting long before Foster encountered the title of animals. In addition to the lengthy editing process, a team of post-production specialists must make the footage from a variety of cameras visually tie together. There’s not a single narrative seam in the immersive process, not a crack in the subtle aquatic palette or underwater lighting.

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Unlike cinematic audacity Gundathis removes the human voice from its story, to profoundly affect, Teacher says a lot about the interactions between humans and other species, and its positive potential. There’s a bit of a Spielbergian human-alien connection in the story it tells, a sense of wonder and mystery heightened by Kevin Smuts’ score. However, it is never saccharine or simple, and it is incredibly surprising. We went along on the trip as Foster watched his octopus friend hunt crabs and lobsters, get chased by sharks, and indulge in comic games with a school of fish. Her talent for camouflage and survival is impressive, her intelligence is amazing, and her trust in Foster is heartwarming.

If nothing else, the documentary by Ehrlich and Reed is another reminder of how little we know about the creatures that share this planet with us, and how much we assume in the system. the species hierarchy we’ve come up with. You might think you’re watching another animal movie until, about 20 minutes later, a tentacle pops out and reaches out to grab Foster’s hand. Like him, you can feel the situation change, and you can fall in love too.

Distributor: Netflix
Production companies: Off the Fence, The Sea Change Project
Directed by: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
Screenwriters: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
Producer: Craig Foster
Executive producer: Ellen Windemuth
Director of Photography: Roger Horrocks
Editors: Pippa Ehrlich, Dan Schwalm
Composer: Kevin Smuts
Sound Designer: Barry Donnelly
Underwater photography: Craig Foster
Top view: Warren Smart
Aerial photography: Tom Foster

86 minutes

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