Movie Review by Stephen Doyle
Starring: Michael Gambon (narrator)
Director: Andy Byatt, Alastair Fothergill
DEEP BLUE is a masterly wildlife documentary from the BBC, which charts life in the seas and oceans in all its glory. It is a series of various set pieces which are in turn tense, inspiring, tranquil and, some, just plain bizarre. DEEP BLUE starts with its strongest scene to entice viewers in, which the scene does with undoubted success. We see a flock of gannets flying over the sea searching for fish to eat. Meanwhile a pod of dolphins are gliding over the surface of the waters also looking for food. Simultaneously, the dolphins and the birds notice an enormous shoal of sardines, numbering thousands. The gannets and the dolphins both wade in for the kill, and are soon joined by a group of hungry whaler sharks. The ensuing scrap is thrilling and hectic enough, but the ante is upped when, unexpectedly, a huge whale with its awesome jaws wide open, enters the fray, devouring everything in its path.
This battle is so exciting and filmed from so many different viewpoints, that at times it feels like one is watching an imaginary CGI animation and not a documentary at all, for shouldn’t the images of a documentary be much more austere and restricted than this? The film proceeds with similarly dramatic set pieces including a look at a group of fat emperor penguins attempting to migrate through the worst conditions Earth has to offer, a collection of whales making a meal of some baby sea lions, and a look into the surreal under-explored world to be found deep down on the bed of the oceans.
Adding to the classy feel of the film is the august and authoritative narration, which is wisely kept brief and never being obtrusive. I was pleasantly surprised to learn at the end of the film that this narration was supplied by none other than the great Michael Gambon. Also of note is the score by George Fenton, which is present in the film almost continuously. It compliments the action exquisitely, suiting the mood of each scene perfectly, whether the mood be one of tension, tranquillity, playfulness or reflection.
The BBC has come under much pressure lately but DEEP BLUE offers a reminder of why the BBC was once considered the greatest broadcasting house in the world. DEEP BLUE is authoritative and intelligent, and as for the production values, the mind boggles when considering the technology, skill, patience and money necessary to capture these amazing shots.