The Living Sea

on February 28, 1995 by Ann Kwinn
   Watching ³The Living Sea² feels like a pleasant swim through safe water, an underwater fantasia where the creatures' sinewy ballets move in time to the music. Sting's Caribbean score suggests ³Under the Sea² from ³The Little Mermaid.²
   Really more a tone poem than a movie, more beautiful than interesting, the film is nonjudgmental almost to a fault: a stream of consciousness reminiscence of the ocean's memories, or those of a filmmaker who loves the sea like a person. Some of the movie's best sequences are surfing footage--which is not surprising, given that the director here is Greg MacGillivray (Imax's ³Into the Deep²), who began his career documenting rip curls in his California seaside hometown of Corona del Mar.
   Even the requisitely present scientists in ³The Living Sea² don't teach much. We learn that there is only one sea, and that certain currents can travel halfway across the world. The film's power is in its visuals, such as time-lapse photography of the tide moving out of a Canadian harbor, beginning at the top of a tall dock and dropping 50 feet to set the boats on the ocean bottom.
   Sunlight filters through a forest of sea kelp. Metallic fish glitter before the camera; others race at the whim of the current. A squid rushes by. Sting sings ³One World Is Enough for All of Us.² A woman paddles through a web of jellyfish. A Coast Guard crew tosses an orange practice dummy upon vast gray waters. A wind surfer flies high, and in his wake a dolphin follows. There's nothing for audiences of ³The Living Sea² to do but smile a little and plan their next trip to the beach. Narrated by Meryl Streep. Directed by Greg MacGillivray. Written by Roger Holzberg and Tim Cahill. Produced by Greg MacGillivray and Alec Lorimore. An Imax Corp. release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 70 min.
Format: IMAX
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